Sports

Rick Kushman: See Amgen bike race on Versus

Super Super Bowl

Since Super Bowl news will never really end, here's an update on the ratings, in case you missed it. Final numbers from Nielsen Media Research now put this year's game as the most-watched Super Bowl ever, averaging 98.7 million viewers on Sunday.

Lots of people have been asking, so let's get right to the headline: Yes, the Amgen Tour of California will be televised, and the coverage will be extensive.

Why wouldn't Versus, the cable channel that loves cycling (and any competition that's not on a major network), broadcast the race? It's got Lance Armstrong. It's got a world-class field. It's got the return of Floyd Landis. It's got Lance Armstrong.

Why is Versus going with all its guns on this? The real reason, of course, is Lance.

Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, is one of the most charismatic figures in sports, and Versus has been all over his unretirement. So it's scheduling daily two-hour coverage of all nine days of the Amgen tour.

This Saturday (at 2 p.m.), Versus is running an hour-long Tour of California preview show that will, you know, preview the tour.

And if you're not a cycling fan but plan to watch this race, prepare to meet Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. They'll call the race, and they're also my favorite announcing team in sports. Possibly it's because of their accents.

That moved it into first place for Super Bowls and second place for any U.S. TV broadcast, behind only the 106 million who watched the finale of "M*A*S*H" in 1983.

In case it matters to you, here are the top five Super Bowls, from Nielsen:

1. Pittsburgh vs. Arizona, 2009, 98.7 million (NBC).

2. New York Giants vs. New England, 2008, 97.5 million (Fox).

3. Dallas vs. Pittsburgh, 1996, 94.1 million (NBC).

4. Indianapolis vs. Chicago, 2007, 93.2 million (CBS).

5. Dallas vs. Buffalo, 1993, 91.0 million (NBC).

'Reaper' vs. 'Idol'

And in What'd They Do to My Shows?, there's some action this week.

First up, it's good news-bad news about "Reaper," the clever little series with the coolest devil in TV history (played by Ray Wise). CW moved up the second season start date two weeks to March 3. It also moved up the time from 9 to 8 p.m.

The bad news is, that's a Tuesday. Fox's "American Idol" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays. A cynic would say CW is just throwing "Reaper" to, uh, the devil, and a cynic would probably be right. That's because CW is moving "90210," one of the network's better performing shows, an hour later to 9 p.m. and out of "Idol's" way.

TNT said it's renewing its new caper series, "Leverage," for a second season of 15 episodes. And, in case you missed my retraction, I'm now on record saying the show is kinda fun.

NBC renewed both "The Office" and "30 Rock" through the 2009-10 season. That's no surprise, since they're the two best comedies on network TV, and NBC gave "The Office" the primo post-Super Bowl slot to try to drum up more viewers. The comedy averaged 22 million viewers on Sunday, and by the way, see how Super Bowl-related stuff just keeps coming?

Reach Rick Kushman at (916) 321-1187 or rkushman@sacbee.com

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