Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us and you know what that means? The Puppy Bowl is here! If you love dogs as much as we do, you’d probably rather see soft, cuddly puppies snuggle and prance on a miniature football field than watch gigantic, enraged men tackle each other for over 4 hours. The halftime show isn’t even that outstanding, unless Beyonce is a part of it (but that’s a whole different story). If you think you’re an outcast for choosing the Puppy Bowl over the Super Bowl, not to worry. Over 13 million people tune into the Puppy Bowl every year.
Believe it or not, the Puppy Bowl started as joke. “We always made the joke, ‘Let’s just put a box of puppies on the air and call it a day,'” former Animal Planet executive producer Margo Kent tells Yahoo TV. “It was a joke for years, and then we had a new general manager, Maureen Smith, who came in, and David Doyle, the head of production and development, and they were told, ‘You’ve got to do something to counterprogram the Super Bowl.’”
Here’s what the first Puppy Bowl looked like:
The Puppy Bowl, which airs February 4th, looks much different now. The starting line up consists of 78 puppies from 34 different rescues and 3 puppies with special needs. They also throw in a not-to-be-missed halftime show. In 2015 they featured 21 kittens starring in the Bissell Kitty Halftime Show, five Nigerian dwarf goat cheerleaders, Meep the Bird tweeting game details, and a scoreboard operated by a hamster.
The first Puppy Bowl, which aired on February 6th, 2005, narrated by NFL Films voice and Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, was filmed in a 10 by 19 foot box in Silver Spring, Maryland. It featured two teams of puppies, the Ruffs and the Fluffs, all from local rescue shelters and with help from the American Human Association. The show brought in 5.58 million viewers. The rest is history.
While the Puppy Bowl isn’t exactly as popular as the Super Bowl —more than 108 million people watched Super Bowl XLVII last year — it is a great success in counter programming, which is no small triumph.
What’s the secret to success for the Puppy Bowl? Putting the animals first every show, every year.
“We had this pyramid; where most programming puts the humans at the top of the pyramid, for Animal Planet, animals were at the top of the pyramid, and we looked at it like it was a human’s job to make sure that animals were always front and center. With the domestic pets, adoption, spay, and neutering were big, big messages for us. It was always understood that if we did this, we were going to be using shelter pups and getting that message out.”
Each year most of the shelter dogs that play in the Puppy Bowl are adopted by the time the show airs. So if you’re looking to adopt a puppy, do it now before it’s too late and remember, the Puppy Bowl is no joke, it’s genius.