1951: Super Bowl Watch Party
|Super Bowl Watch Party|
Title text: It's going to be weird near the end of May when the screen goes blank for over 18 hours.
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football. In late January or early February each year, the winner of the American Football Conference (AFC) plays the winner of the National Football Conference (NFC) to determine the champion. In Super Bowl LII held on Sunday, February 4, (the day before this comic's release), the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles defeated the AFC champion New England Patriots 41-33. Based on its wide-reaching cultural impact, the Super Bowl is the single most important American football game of the year. Over a hundred million people (across the world) watch it, many of whom are not even fans of American football.
Many people have parties centered on watching the game. The full game lasts around four hours, including breaks for advertisements and a halftime. The halftime show of the Superbowl includes a live musical performance, and is generally considered one of the most prestigious shows in the country, meaning it will generally be an elaborate show by a particularly popular artist or group. Because of the high viewership of the Superbowl, advertising time is very expensive ($5 million for a 30-second national spot, as of 2019). This has lead to companies putting substantial resources into producing the commercials, to make them as memorable as possible. The net effect is that the halftime show and the commercials, despite being interruptions to the game, have become attractions in their own right, with some viewers tuning in primarily, or even solely, to watch them.
Cueball and Megan (on the couch) have such a Super Bowl Watch Party going with their friends (hence the title), but in order to watch the game so that the end will be at the start of the next game, they have slowed down the broadcast so the game takes an entire year to watch. Television in the United States is broadcast at 29.97 frames per second (usually rounded up to 30fps) and takes four hours, for a total of 431568 frames. But by slowing the video down by a factor of 2300, the show would last a full year. (Actually it would last 33,119,967 seconds which is 383 days, 18 days more than a year. To make it last a year, minus 4 hours, it should be slowed down a factor 2189). Each frame would be shown for about 76.7 seconds. Each day of watching the slow video would cover just under 40 seconds of "actual" time. With this method of viewing, the watchers are instead reduced to analyzing the game frame-by-frame, which may make it easier to understand the sequence of events, but also creates a feeling of tedium.
Due to this extension creating a lack of variety, Megan tries to make it interesting by guessing the next frame shown will be a cut to a different camera angle. Cuts happen frequently during the broadcast, especially when the ball is not in play, and these cuts may be marked by a black screen. If this is the case, then the cut will be around a minute of nothing to look at at this speed. Megan has a relatively high probability (albeit still incredibly low, with cuts being less than one in every 1000 frames) of being right simply by chance that the next frame will be a cut, but Cueball's tired comment that she always guesses that indicates that the game is so slow or the cuts are so rare that she is almost never correct.
Ponytail asks if they think the first ad block will come out before the end of February, about 20 days after the start of the Super Bowl show. The ads and halftime show are considered integral parts of the broadcast, and many advertisers debut elaborate commercials especially for this game, since so many people watch it. Many people claim to watch the Super Bowl only for the commercial breaks, as mentioned in 60: Super Bowl, and the anticipation for these is exaggerated for this game, as the wait is much longer with the extended broadcast. (In exchange, however, the commercials will be longer, too.)
The title text refers to how, during a commercial break during the 2018 Super Bowl, only blackness was broadcast for 28 seconds due to equipment failure at NBC. At the rate they watch it would last almost 18 hours as described (17 hours 53 minutes).
In previous comics regarding the Super Bowl, Randall has explained that he now watches the Super Bowl (1480: Super Bowl), despite previously expressing a lack of interest in the game (60: Super Bowl) or any other sport (1107: Sports Cheat Sheet). A slowly updating video is similar to the concept behind 1190: Time, and is also reminiscent of Douglas Gordon's 1993 art installation 24 Hour Psycho. Also, As Slow as Possible is an organ piece that is currently played in a German church - it will end in 2640, after 639 years of continuous playing. The theme of a group becoming interested in frame-by-frame shots is reminiscent of 915: Connoisseur. Related to frame-by-frame film watching is the Cinema interruptus concept used by film critic Roger Ebert at the Conference on World Affairs, where you first watch a film at normal speed, without interruptions, and then you watch it again, over several afternoons - while everybody present can stop the film at any time, and have a discussion about anything related to the scene. This is also a method that coaches use to discuss recordings of games.
- [A woman, looking like Megan, walks up to a group of people watching TV. Cueball and Megan (with shorter hair than the walking woman) are sitting on a couch. A Cueball-like guy sits in front of them, while Ponytail lies on the ground, head resting on a hand, in front of a TV, which is quite far from the couch.]
- Woman: Morning. How's the game?
- Cueball: Eagles got to the 26-yard line around midnight. They've been walking across the field since then. Just entered a huddle.
- Megan: I bet the next frame will be a cut.
- Guy on floor: You always say that.
- Ponytail: Do you think the first ads will come by the end of February?
- [Caption below the comic:]
- I'm at a year-round Super Bowl watch party. We're playing the stream at 1/2300x speed, so it will end just as next year's Super Bowl starts.
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