The glory days of dedicated Super Bowl “counter-programming” are gone. When you can stream whatever you want on Netflix to prove how much you don’t even care about the Super Bowl, there isn’t a lot of point to networks dedicating programming to countering the game. But there are still a few alternatives to the big, dumb football game you can check out on Sunday.
Puppy Bowl XVII on Animal Planet
Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl is the most successful counter-programing in history. The annual celebration of adorability has been making people say “awww” for 17 years. This year, the bowl features celebrity coaches Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg overseeing a cadre of adoptable rescue dogs. Snoop will also appear in the Super Bowl’s half-time show, so he’s going to have a busy day.
You can watch The Puppy Bowl on Feb. 13 on Animal Planet. The pre-show begins at 1 p.m. ET, and the big game barks off at 2 p.m. It’s also streaming on Discovery+.
Sadly, you cannot watch the Kitten Bowl anywhere this year. The Hallmark Channel canceled their counter-counter-programming featuring adorable baby cats and has no plans to bring it back in the future.
Bell Air premiers on Peacock
NBC’s streaming service Peacock will be releasing the first three episodes of Bel Air on Super Bowl Sunday. The reboot of 1990s sit-com Fresh Prince of Bel Air imagines the story of Will’s trip from West Philadelphia (born and raised) to the ritzy part of Los Angeles as a one-hour drama. It’s a little weird that NBC is putting a new show against their own Super Bowl, but if the game proves a boring blow-out, I might switch over.
Celebrity Big Brother on CBS
A new episode of reality show Celebrity Big Brother premieres on CBS and streams on Paramount+ at 8 p.m. ET, right in the middle of the big game. This season, Celebrity Big Brother’s cast includes Cynthia Bailey, Carson Kressely, and Todd Bridges, who are celebrities, in some sense.
Foo Fighters’ virtual reality concert
If you want really alternative Super Bowl programming, you can watch the Foo Fighters perform in the Metaverse as soon as the Super Bowl ends. You can stream old-fashioned video of the concert on Facebook and Instagram, but if you strap on your Oculus headset, you can enjoy “a front row, 180-degree VR concert experience complete with customized avatars, fan interaction, and virtual games in the show lobby.” Sounds, uh, fun, I guess.
Musicals on TCM
I like football and I like old musicals. (I contain multitudes.) This year, old movie channel Turner Classic Movies is showing The Music Man at 5:15 p.m. ET on Super Bowl Sunday and following it up with Stormy Weather at 8 p.m. Both movies are excellent, and will almost definitely feature more razz-a-ma-tazz and the old soft-shoe than the Super Bowl.
Romantic comedies on the Hallmark Channel
The Hallmark Channel churns out low-budget romantic comedies at an impressive pace, and they’re serving some up on Super Bowl Sunday. The Wedding Veil Unveiled begins at 2 p.m. ET, and is followed by a block of four more original Hallmark movies you can watch and instantly forget you ever saw.
BBC America’s sly commentary on American football
BBC America’s schedule for Super Bowl Sunday includes back-to-back showings of coming-of-age classic Stand by Me, followed by Kevin Costner’s football flick Draft Day, and then Concussion, in which “Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) raises public awareness about football-related brain trauma.” Draw your own conclusions here.