INDIANAPOLIS – An influx of approximately 150,000 visitors is due in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
There will be more than 5,000 media credentials issued for the championship event, and a large number will go to NBC to support personnel who will originate broadcasts from Indianapolis prior to Super Sunday.
NBC's Super Bowl coverage dates back to Super Bowl I, when it and CBS televised the game from the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. This Sunday will mark NBC's 17th Super Bowl.
Play-by-play voice Al Michaels will be calling his eighth Super Bowl, his second with NBC. Analyst Cris Collinsworth will be making his second Super Bowl appearance behind the microphone. Producing the telecast will be Fred Gaudelli. A 23-year veteran NFL producer with ESPN, ABC and NBC, Gaudelli will be a part of his fourth Super Bowl broadcast. It will be the network's first such telecast since Super Bowl XLIII.
Gaudelli will oversee a credentialed NBC game staff of 185 to 200 personnel. There is planned game coverage by 31 to 32 cameras in Lucas Oil Stadium. There will be a mounted camera on a downtown skyscraper for establishing shots of the city, as well as a camera mounted on the stadium catwalk.
Gaudelli is a veteran of previous Colts telecasts and considers Lucas Oil Stadium one of the nation's premier venues.
"From a television perspective, it just has a lot of neat features," said Gaudelli. "Obviously, the retractable roof won't be in operation on Super Bowl Sunday, but I love it. I think it's tremendous. I love the big glass windows that give you the view of downtown. I think every seat in the house is fantastic. The camera angles and the sight lines are exactly what you want from a television perspective."
Gaudelli says the Comcast acquisition of NBC last year will allow for more coverage platforms in addition to the game. From the purchase came cable assets that joined NBC's established lineup. Expected to originate shows from Indianapolis this week are the Golf Channel, NBC Sport Network, the Today Show, Jimmy Fallon Show, segments of NBC Nightly News and CNBC. A total credential count to accommodate the army of personnel is between 500 and 750 NBC employees.
Gaudelli started at ESPN in 1982. He joined ABC Sports after his ESPN stint, then joined NBC when the network obtained the NFL's Sunday Night package. As he has grown up in the business, Gaudelli has seen the Super Bowl mushroom.
"When I first started at ESPN, the Super Bowl was a big deal," said Gaudelli. "Even back then, it was the premier television event of the year, there was no question about that. It's grown leaps and bounds beyond that. It's an American holiday that everybody celebrates. Even if you're a football fan for one day of the year, this is that day you're that football fan.
"The NFL is incredible because every time you think it can't get bigger, it gets bigger. If you look at the ratings, this is the only product that has grown on a continual basis in the last decade. Everyone else has audience erosion, and this thing (the NFL) keeps getting bigger and bigger, and the ratings go up and up. Every time you think, 'Well, it can't get bigger than it is right now,' somehow it finds a way. It's interesting to see what happens in the future, but I wouldn't bet against it."
Last year's game reached 162.9 million viewers who saw all or part of the game. The previous year, Super Bowl XLIV featuring the Colts and New Orleans, had 153.4 million viewers. That was the first program that out-drew the viewership total of the last episode of MAS*H in 1983.
Gaudelli says the event stands on its own, regardless of participants or the market sizes of the competing teams. He is excited about Sunday's possibilities.
"I would say the event is so big that it is not beholden to having teams from two major cities, but the fact you do probably gives you a better chance to have a record-setting rating," said Gaudelli. "The last Super Bowl NBC did was Pittsburgh-Arizona. Pittsburgh is a small market and Arizona was a market that never really factored in but that day with the game so great (competitively) and the Super Bowl being what it is, at that time that was the most people that ever had watched a TV show in America. That right there proves how big this game is. When you put the New York and Boston markets in there (this year), I think you have a chance to do even better.
"The last three years, the record has been broken for the highest-rated and most-watched show in America. Starting with Super Bowl XLVII, every year has been a record-setting year. If we have a competitive game, it could be the fourth straight year the record falls."