Amid all the talk of Broncos and Seahawks, you may not have noticed that Super Bowl Sunday is going to the dogs.
And the cats.
And the hamsters, penguins and goldfish.
Over the past decade, the Puppy Bowl has become as much of a Super Bowl tradition as prop bets, Monday-morning hangovers and those awkward Go Daddy commercials.
It’s an institution that’s now outlived the Lingerie Bowl, the Bud Bowl, even the “Beavis and Butt-head” specials unfortunately known as the Butt Bowl.
This year, though, Puppy Bowl X has some competition from Hallmark Channel’s very similar “Kitten Bowl” and Nat Geo Wild’s “Fish Bowl,” which sounds almost too silly for words.
Here’s a look at how the specials stack up. (Hint: The one that’s enlisting Keyboard Cat to goof on Super Bowl halftime performer Bruno Mars has a distinct advantage.)
PUPPY BOWL X
When: 3 p.m. Sunday (repeated with new content throughout the day), Animal Planet
What: 66 puppies will romp, roll around, chew on things, take naps and find other ways of being adorable on a scaled-down football field.
Human face: veteran Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner
Special guests: sideline reporter Meep the Bird, penguin cheerleaders, hamster blimp pilots, police dogs that will take the field for the national anthem, 30 kitten halftime performers and Keyboard Cat, who’ll play Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”
Best Super Bowl tie-in: To avoid a power outage like the one that interrupted last year’s Super Bowl, hamsters will be running on wheels below the stadium to keep the lights on.
Interactive element: Viewers can vote for a different Most Valuable Puppy during each broadcast at animalplanet.com/puppybowlmvp.
Aww factor: All of the puppies and kittens came from shelters and rescue groups, and adoption updates will air throughout the game.
Target audience: anyone with a heart
When: noon Sunday, Hallmark Channel (repeated throughout the day)
What: 71 kittens, divided into four teams, will compete in obstacle courses during two semifinals and a championship, all on a scaled-down football field.
Human face: host Beth Stern
Special guests: Regis Philbin, Hoda Kotb, Rachael Ray, Lisa Vanderpump, Rocco DiSpirito, Nicky Hilton, Bob Harper, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Carrie Ann Inaba
Best Super Bowl tie-in: Among the “players” are Tim Teepaw, Manti Meow, Brett Furve, Jay Catler, Terry Bradclaw and Troy Paw-Lamalau
Interactive element: Viewers can take part in the Feline Fantasy Draft at www.facebook.com/hallmarkchannel.
Aww factor: All 71 of the kittens, brought in from rescue groups, have been adopted.
Target audience: anyone who doesn’t know there’s a Puppy Bowl; those weirdos who prefer kittens to puppies
When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nat Geo Wild (repeated at 7 p.m.)
What: a goldfish named Goldie swims around her bowl — for four hours
Human faces: Cesar Millan and “The Incredible” Dr. Pol
Special guests: puppies, kittens, other goldfish, red crabs, little green army men and a scuba diver
Best Super Bowl tie-in: Referencing everything she plans to showcase during her “unfiltered” performance, Goldie talked a little smack about her competition via a press release: “Can Bruno Mars pack all of that into his halftime show? Right, I didn’t think so, blub, blurb, bubble.”
Interactive element: You can make a virtual Goldie swim back and forth at fishbowl.nationalgeographic.com
Target audience: cats; stoners; anyone whose remote control runs out of batteries at the exact moment they tune in.
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567.