Chalk up another victory for the creative class: ABC's obstacle-course competition hit Wipeout will return for two episodes on Super Bowl Sunday, directly challenging both NBC's halftime show featuring Bruce Springsteen and a special postgame edition of The Office. It's the biggest such counterprogramming battle in five years, and as with everything else pertaining to the network these days, the Peacock might be in trouble.
Though it looked for a while like Wipeout may have its lowest-common-denominator license revoked for any number of intellectual-property infractions, that day won't come soon enough for NBC, which will be forced to stave off what THR calls "one of the most ambitious Super Bowl Sunday programming plans ever mounted by a non-host network." And yes, let's face it: If Pop Culture Doomsday has proven anything, it's that inbreds falling off padded balls (with NFL retiree-commentary) is the definitive sophistication Americans crave between football halves.
And as for counterprogramming against The Office? Boobs, naturally:
ABC will air an hourlong Wipeout in which cheerleaders compete against male "couch potato" sports fans. [...] "It's broadcast's biggest day, and this is a big mass-market show, and it's fun to be able to participate and be a part of it," said John Saade, senior vp alternative programming at ABC. "This will put Wipeout back in the public's consciousness between runs, and we plan to have a lot of fun with it."
Meanwhile at NBC, Jeff Zucker is hoping the Japanese can pick up the pace on that Wipeout injunction, lest he be forced to augment his own gameday programming with the stakes-upping, fan-friendly halftime act tested out earlier this year in New York. You don't know what this guy is capable of when he's cornered.