With last year's Super Bowl making history as the most-watched American television program ever, it's safe to assume that this year's matchup between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will once again reign supreme. If you're not, however, one of the more than 100 million expected to tune in, fear not. There are several ways to still enjoy Game Day without actually watching football. And if you also happen to love puppies, kittens or fish, Super Bowl Sunday has you covered.
Animal Planet's 'Puppy Bowl XI' (Sunday, Feb. 1, 3-5 p.m. EST, repeating all night)
Paw-er play: Cuteness replaces the gridiron in Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl (Photo: Animal Planet)
The reigning champ of Super Bowl counter-programming, Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl X" last year drew a record-breaking 13.5 million viewers. The two-hour live special (which then goes on repeat for another 12 amazing hours), features shelter pups from all around the nation competing for extreme cuteness in a small model stadium. Since it first aired in 2005, AP has added a "Kitty Half-Time" show, rabbit cheerleaders, hamsters in a blimp, penguins and even Internet meme sensations Keyboard Cat and Lil Bub. The event has proven so popular that First Lady Michelle Obama helped launch its 10th anniversary last year with puppies "training" for the Puppy Bowl on the South Lawn of the White House.
"Puppy Bowl XI" will feature 55 pups, hamsters in a biplane, the return of Meep the Bird, and a halftime show with a performance by "Katty Furry."
Hallmark Channel's 'Kitten Bowl II' (Sunday, Feb. 1, 12-3 p.m. E/T, repeating at 3 p.m., 6 p.m.)
The fur will fly: Now in its second year, the Hallmark Channel's "Kitten Bowl" is quickly becoming a draw for cat lovers. (Photo: Hallmark Channel)
If a Super Bowl contest involving more than 90 shelter kittens is more your speed, the Hallmark Channel's "Kitten Bowl II" is the purrfect choice. Hosted by animal advocate Beth Stern, wife of radio personality Howard Stern, the three-hour event will feature play-by-play announcing by John Sterling (radio voice of the New York Yankees), as well as celebrity appearances by Kevin Nealon, Mario Lopez, Regis Philbin and others.
Last year's inaugural Kitten Bowl brought in 6.1 million viewers across its three encore, the Hallmark Channel's highest total audience ever in the time period. Expect more yarn balls, lasers and toys on string this go around. But don't get too sweet on the players — they were all adopted almost immediately after the "Kitten Bowl" was filmed in September.
National Geographic's 'Fish Bowl' (Sunday, Feb. 1, 6-10 p.m. EST)
Splish splash: NatGeo is hoping a visit to the farm will boost the Fish Bowl's terrible first-year ratings. (Photo: NatGeo)
Looking for something a lot less frantic than kittens and puppies? How about a goldfish? The NatGeo Channel is doubling down on last year's inaugural "Fish Bowl" with not one, but two fish species. Wow! Goldie (the goldfish) and friends will be joined by their saltwater counterpart Charlie (the clown fish) and Co. This year, they're both heading to a farm to swim in front of disinterested cows, horses, pigs, chickens and many more. Why the new animal co-stars? Over the four hour period last year, only 27,000 people bothered to tune in to watch Goldie try to escape her watery prison. Here's hoping the farm animals give her a boost.
Super Bowl animal commercials (Sunday, Feb. 1, Anytime from 6-10:30 p.m. EST ... or right now!)
Because the Internet is awesome, you don't have to suffer through the big game just to see some of the great animal commercials in-between. With GoDaddy pulling its controversial lost puppy ad, Budweiser is likely to once again be the reigning champ of Super Bowl branding cuteness. You can see the company's latest, titled "Lost Dog," below. Keep those tissues handy.
Another great pet-themed ad that will air during the "Kitten Bowl" is this SFX-heavy Dogs V. Cats matchup ,courtesy of the Lucy Pet Foundation. Once again, tissues.