Super Bowl is more than a game to NBC

It’s finally here.

After weeks of gearing up and seemingly limitless promotion, Super Bowl XLIII hits on Sunday.

And the Boss will be in charge, whether it’s the pregame interview with President Obama or the halftime performance by Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band.

Oh, and there is the football game too.

But as NBC Chairman Dick Ebersol reminded reporters this week during a conference call, “The Super Bowl is much more than a game,” he said.

Scheduled to kick off about 3:25 p.m. PST on NBC, the contest between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., will be the high point of a sports day that begins at 9 a.m. with Bob Costas hosting “Road to the Super Bowl,” a review of the 2008 season produced in cooperation with NFL Films.

The Super Bowl pregame show is up next, with “Today” host Matt Lauer sitting down with Obama for a live chat at the White House, presumably to talk about football. During his campaign for the presidency, Obama appeared at halftime of a “Monday Night Football” broadcast on ESPN during which he endorsed a playoff system for college football.


Also part of the pregame show is an interview with Springsteen; segments on Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt, quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger, and an analysis of both teams by New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.

In addition, veteran safety Rodney Harrison, who played on two Super Bowl championship teams in New England, will be asked the keys to defending against Arizona’s seemingly unstoppable wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.

Faith Hill will sing “America the Beautiful” and also a Super Bowl version of her football theme song, “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.” Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will sing the national anthem. There will be additional pregame musical performances by Journey and John Legend.

In the broadcast booth, Al Michaels and John Madden will call their third Super Bowl together. In a conference call, Michaels talked about the preparation that goes into announcing a championship game.

“John and I like to follow the saying, ‘Let the game come to you.’ We’re going to go into this game with about 8 million things to talk about, but we’re not going to start by talking about them,” Michaels said. “We’ll let the game develop, see where the stories are and then get into them.”

NBC will utilize 52 high-definition cameras; 93 microphones; 24 digital replay sources; 20 hand-held cameras; five robotic cameras, including two attached to the goal posts; and one cable camera suspended above the field.

“There is great anticipation about this game, and there’s mystery. . . .,” Michaels said. “I’m delighted to be working my third Super Bowl with John and we just want one thing -- double overtime.”

Also this weekend

Tennis fans will have to keep the coffee pots percolating at the midnight hour for the men’s and women’s finals of the Australian Open. Serena Williams will go for her 10th Grand Slam title when she faces Dinara Safina at midnight tonight . On Sunday at 12:30 a.m., Roger Federer plays either Rafael Nadal or Fernando Verdasco for the men’s championship. ESPN2 will televise both matches.

In college basketball Saturday, UCLA and USC have home games against Pacific 10 conference rivals from the Bay Area. The Bruins face the Stanford Cardinal at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 7. The Trojans play host to the California Golden Bears at 8:30 on Prime Ticket.

FS West announced this week that it will broadcast 125 Angels games in the 2009 season, all in high definition. That is an increase from last season, when FS West televised 100 games, 75 of those in HD.