Puppy Bowl becomes cute success
With most of the US going crazy for all things Super Bowl ahead of Sunday's big game, television channel Animal Planet is preparing for its alternative option for non-sport fans - Puppy Bowl.
The channel's annual cute-a-thon started seven years ago to entice television viewers bored with endless Super Bowl pre-game shows, and it is now so popular it averaged nearly 1.1 million viewers last year.
The idea is simple - take a group of adorable puppies and film them running around, sniffing and wrestling with each other for two hours.
"Somebody said to me, 'Babies and puppies, they tear open your heart,'" said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "There is just something about how excruciatingly cute they are."
But even Puppy Bowl has a football theme, with the dogs scoring "touchdowns" if they cross a goal line with a chew toy, while there will also be a "blimp" staffed by hamsters, chickens as cheerleaders and a musical half-time show starring cats.
The event has now become big enough that it even has product placement, with a car company paying for the right to have its vehicle drive the border terriers, beagles, pugs, spaniels and Schnauzers out on to the field