For WTAJ, it’s the biggest day of the year

Television’s biggest day means just as much for network affiliates as for the companies that invest in multi-million dollar Super Bowl advertising campaigns.

For WTAJ-TV, the CBS Sports broadcast of the big game produces the highest ad rates and viewership of the year. It also offers a high-profile promotional opportunity, which Channel 10 is using to hype its planned HD news launch Monday.

“It’s always the biggest day of the year for us,” general manager Phil Dubrow said last week.

And that’s especially true this year with the station’s move to a new look for its news operation.

As part of WTAJ’s Super Bowl coverage, sports reporter Amy Gill spent time in New Orleans with a team of reporters from Channel 10’s parent company (Nexstar Broadcasting, which owns 38 stations across the nation).

The on-site visit allowed reporters to mine local stories for news broadcasts and web extras.

Gill’s trip produced stories on coaches and players with Penn State ties as well as the typical prove-you-were-there major event and travelogue pieces.

Ad attention

Along with expensive national ads, the Super Bowl includes about a dozen local ads. Many advertisers who support Steelers broadcasts during the NFL regular season will fill those for WTAJ.

“It’s pretty much the same group we have during the regular season,” Dubrow said.

Expect a local car dealer, a jeweler and a certain local newspaper (the Mirror and its sister company, among the advertisers.

Still, those ads will not fan anticipation or feature the production values of the national ads, which cost an average of $3.8 million for this year’s game. As always, the big players will be the ABCs – automobiles, beverages and comedy.

According to some surveys, as many as 45 percent of viewers who watch the Super Bowl tune in exclusively for the ads. Most advertisers have extended their campaigns to include online previews, and they hope for social media reaction to drive more attention after an ad airs.

That’s why comedy provides a time-tested formula.

Tuner tidbits

n Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched TV show in U.S. history, attracting 111.3 million viewers. It was also popular on radio and online. More than 23 million listened on radio and 2.1 million streamed it to computers or portable devices.

n With 62 cameras in the Superdome, CBS should have every angle covered. That includes cameras focused exclusively on 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

n While NFL Network, ESPN and CBS promise hours of pregame coverage, the NFL Network’s access makes its coverage the best in the hours leading up to the game.

n Another gameday standout is the year’s only Sunday broadcast of “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN Radio. It’s always a good, timely listen.

n “Face the Nation” will feature NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Sunday, too.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. He’s on Twitter@talkingtvsports and may be contacted at