The game between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers will likely reach tens of millions of TV viewers and reel in upwards of $1 million per 30-second spot, but several cyberspace hopefuls are betting there are more than a few football fanatics who want to log on at the same time they tune in.
ABC will offer play-by-play commentary and statistics on America Online during the Jan. 29 game, marking what the TV network is calling the first interactive Super Bowl. AOL subscribers also will be able to download photos and video clips taken from an on-field camera. The site is part of a Super Bowl-theme area ABC Sports opened on AOL on Jan. 13.
In addition, AOL subscribers will be able to play along with the big game for the first time, using NTN Communications' QB1.
"Obviously the TV is where we want them to be," said Jonathan Leess, VP-production planning at ABC Sports. "But there's a market out there of [computer] users that are hungry for information, entertainment and some sort of interactive" experience.
The Super Bowl craze isn't lost on the Internet, either. Fans can log on to http://superbowl.com/superbowl to get details on Miami-area dining and lodging and player statistics, as well as order Super Bowl merchandise online. An e-mail sweepstakes offers the chance to win Super Bowl wares and two tickets to the game.
The site is operated by Electronic Marketing Services, a Provo, Utah, company that also operates iMall, an online shopping service.
At Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium, site of the Super Bowl, fans will get a taste of NTN's QB1 as part of the NFL Experience sideshow sponsored by Miller Brewing Co., a major NTN advertiser. GTE Corp., meanwhile, will sponsor a "classroom of the future" featuring interactive teleconferences with NFL players and coaches.
At home, Chrysler Corp. again will use Interactive Network to test recall of its three Super Bowl spots.
At halftime, IN subscribers will be asked to take the "Stratus Challenge," a series of 13 questions related to the new Dodge car, such as the ad's tagline and where the car will be sold. One question will ask if the game participant wants a Stratus catalog, said Marc Caroselli, VP-account supervisor at Dodge agency BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich. Last year, Chrysler tested recall of ads for its Neon.
At the end of the game, IN will transmit to interested subscribers information on the car's performance, design, safety and other features.
IN also will feature a celebrity player, former Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville, who's now a Fox sports commentator.
Raymond Serafin and Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.