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International Media Covers US Football Championship


Each year, a potential one billion people around the world are able to watch the U.S. National Football League championship game called the Super Bowl. VOA's Jim Stevenson is in Jacksonville, Florida to cover the game and has more on the throngs of international broadcasters who will bring the popular Super Bowl to the airwaves.

The Super Bowl broadcast from Houston, Texas last year was the most watched television program ever in the United States with 144.4 million viewers. The 10 most-watched sports programs in U.S. television history have all been Super Bowls.

Announcer 1: “Super Bowl records set in this game, four kick returns, most combined points set in the first quarter, the longest pass reception, most punt returns, the longest kickoff return.”
Announcer 2: “That's what you call a shootout!"

More than 3000 working media are credentialed for Super Bowl 39 this year in Jacksonville, Florida. Of that group, 356 are international journalists from 130 organizations. Mexico leads the international contingent with 41 media outlets represented in Jacksonville, followed by Canada with 24, Germany and Britain with 14 each, and Japan with 12.

The Super Bowl, perhaps the most American of all sporting events, is a worldwide curiosity.

The championship game, while perhaps not understood by many international viewers, will be seen live in the early hours of Monday in Europe, and after daybreak in Asia.

Sunday's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will be beamed to a potential audience estimated by the NFL at one billion in more than 220 countries and territories. It will be broadcast in 21 languages, including Arabic, Cantonese, Icelandic, Russian, Serbian and Thai.

Fourteen television and radio stations from 10 countries will broadcast the game from Alltel Stadium including a crew from China. Last year, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, who speaks fluent Mandarin, was their color analyst. This year his team is in the game, although Lewis is sidelined with an injury.

While the other sport of football, or soccer, is the most popular in the world, American-style football is gaining global interest. The NFL makes a concerted international marketing effort with the exhibition "American Bowl" played every season in Japan. NFL Europe, considered a developmental league, exposes the game to thousands of people on that continent.

Many international sports fans find American football to be tedious, with all the stoppages in play interspersed by a few seconds of action. Still, two Japanese television stations each have 50 people at the Super Bowl. Their live telecasts will begin at eight in the morning, Monday, Japanese time.

Even if the Super Bowl itself is confusing and not on the same scale with the month-long World Cup football finals played every four years, international fans can still enjoy the entertainment segments such as the pre-game festivities and the halftime extravaganza.

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