While the blackout at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during Super Bowl XLVII no doubt had countless viewers screaming at their TVs, another bowl was quietly capitalizing on the power outage.
Puppy Bowl IX, presented by Animal Planet, drew a record number of viewers that day — 12.4 million, to be exact. The 12-hour marathon, which features about 60 puppies provided by PetFinder.com, is shot inside a miniature stadium and mimics an American football bowl game. The puppies score touchdowns, get penalties and substitute players just like in a regular game. Timeouts are also called if the puppies begin to fight (called “unnecessary rrruff-ness” by Andrew Schechter, who coordinated and acted as referee for the Puppy Bowl in 2008).
Animal Planet airs six 2-hour broadcasts of the Puppy Bowl, the first of which was shown on February 6, 2005, the same day as Super Bowl XXXIX.
According to Forbes, the first showing of the Puppy Bowl brought in 2.6 million viewers, up 64 percent from last year. The premiere boosted Animal Planet to No. 1 among all cable channels during that time slot, and to No. 2 in all of television behind the Super Bowl. Viewership during the 34-minute blackout at the Superdome was at 1.1 million viewers, up 54 percent from the previous showing. In total, across all of the showings, 12.4 million viewers watched six minutes or more of Puppy Bowl IX.
Incidentally, while the Puppy Bowl scored its highest viewership since it was first established, Super Bowl XLVII fell just short of its viewership record. With 108.4 million viewers, this year’s Super Bowl was the third most-watched program in US history, with the first two being Super Bowl XLVI and Super Bowl XLV, respectively.