Every year for the past decade, millions of viewers have forgone the annual festivities of Super Bowl Sunday in favor of the only thing that could distract Americans from good old fashioned competition – puppies.
In its tenth year, Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl” continued to serve as a ratings goldmine of canine cuteness. While over 100 million viewers watched the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks face off on Feb. 2, millions of viewers also tuned in to Animal Planet’s game day alternative.
The Super Bowl counter-programming has aired since 2005, and features puppies between 12 and 21 weeks old playing inside a miniature football stadium.
The “Puppy Bowl” has traditionally featured kittens in its Kitten halftime show, but this year the furry felines had a bowl of their own, as the Hallmark channel joined the fray with the first ever “Kitten Bowl.”
With names like Ferrell Owens and Tomcat Brady, the kittens pawed at miniature footballs and balls of yarn on a pint-sized field, complete with scratching post goal posts.
The “Kitten Bowl” attempted to up the ante by including playoff games – four teams of kittens faced off before moving on to the championship game.
Both Bowls had star-power – the “Puppy Bowl” featured viral video star “Keyboard Cat” and Internet favorite “Lil’ Bub,” while the “Kitten Bowl” included two-legged stars Regis Philbin and the Today Show’s Hoda Kotb.
As with the puppy players of the “Puppy Bowl,” the 71 Kittens in the “Kitten Bowl” are all from shelters and available for adoption, as both programs seek to promote awareness of the homeless pet population and the efforts of shelters.
Despite the competition, the “Puppy Bowl” set a ratings record, drawing 13.5 million viewers during its 12 hour marathon, and also became the most tweeted “Puppy Bowl” yet, garnering 340,000 tweets, while the “Kitten Bowl” came in at 1 million viewers.
While the “Puppy Bowl” may have won in terms of viewers, the real winner here is America.