Oct. 21, 2013 at 8:12 PM ET
If you are not among the estimated 110 million people expected to watch Bruno Mars perform next Feb. 2 during the Super Bowl halftime show in New Jersey, the Hallmark Channel has an alternative. The Kitten Bowl, following Animal Planet's successful Puppy Bowl franchise, kicks off in 2014 -- and will be hosted by Beth Stern, with play by play from John Sterling, radio voice of the New York Yankees and host of Yankee Classics on the YES Network.
Stern, a model and wife of radio shock jock Howard Stern, is an animal activist who has worked in the past on behalf of the North Shore Animal League, which is Hallmark’s partner in what the network bills as “the greatest feline showdown in cable television history." A release noted that other stars participating will be announced later.
About 60 to 70 kittens will participate in two preliminary playoffs and a championship match. There is an obstacle course of hurdles, tunnels, hoops, jumps, toys on strings and more. Along with Sterling -- known for his colorful catch phrases such as “Swishalicious” and “A thrilla by Godzilla!” -- the cable channel promises analysis and color commentary by “cats made famous by YouTube videos and Instagram followings.”
Online, there will be hours or comic bits featuring the felines who appear in the Kitten Bowl. All of the cats are guaranteed adoption after the show.
Hallmark, which presents The Kitten Bowl as part of its corporate initiative “Pet Project” says it helps raise awareness of the plight of shelter animals across the country. It also, says the channel, celebrates “pets and the incredible joy and enrichment they bring to our lives.”
The Puppy Bowl, which has aired on Animal Planet since 2005, has long included a "Kitty Half-Time Show."
The Kitten Bowl executive producers are JD Roth, Todd Nelson, Adam Kaloustian and Brant Pinvidic of Eyeworks USA. Hallmark Channel is owned by Crown Media Holdings, which also operates the Hallmark stores and sells greeting cards and other novelties.