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Winter storm could impact the Super Bowl

| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — No chance of any flakes falling at the Super Bowl. Still, a brutal winter storm that buried Mid-Atlantic residents under several feet of snow could have a big impact on the big game Sunday.

With power and cable television knocked out for hundreds of thousands of residents Saturday, some were fretting about what to do if it wasn't back on in time for Sunday's 6 p.m. kickoff.

"That's the first thing I thought when I came downstairs this morning," said Lou Kozloff, a vascular surgeon in Rockville, Md., "I was like, 'Oh nuts, I'm going to miss the game tomorrow."'

But CBS, which is televising the game, believes the storm will actually boost ratings when MVP Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts take on the New Orleans Saints in what is traditionally the most-watched event of the year.

David Poltrack, the network's chief of research, said the blizzard that struck from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow, means more people will be staying at home to watch the game instead of going out to parties and bars. Since the Nielsen Co. does a much better job estimating viewership in homes than it does elsewhere, that's a plus for CBS.

"Anything to keep people home is a good thing," he said.

Poltrack said he doesn't foresee power outages being so widespread by Sunday evening they would have a significant affect on the ratings. Besides, he added, it's the Super Bowl — most people will do whatever they can to watch the game, even it means getting a battery-powered TV.

Kozloff's house had power, but his cable was out — and he had little hope of it being repaired by Sunday. So, he was already coming up an old-school plan for viewing the game.

"I think I'm going to be able to find some rabbit ears ... and be able to watch on some dinky TV," Kozloff said. "It's kind of disappointing."

Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, who won four Super Bowl championships with the Steelers, spent Saturday trying to fly back to his home in Pittsburgh. Only one problem: The TV in the family house was out.

"I'm sure somewhere in Pittsburgh will have power where people can watch the game," he said by cell phone from the Las Vegas airport.

Stephanie Novak of Bala-Cynwyd, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, said her TV still worked but she fretted about the cable being knocked out by the weight of all the snow and ice accumulating on power lines.

Also, her plans to have a big Super Bowl party for family and friends were in serious doubt because she hadn't been able to get to the grocery store. So much for her husband's "famous wings" and the pulled-pork sandwiches that were on the menu.

Even if Novak had a full pantry, there's no guarantee all her planned guests would be able to make it. Many roads were closed as crews struggled to keep the roads plowed; Novak said she's not even able to get her car out of the driveway.

"It's a great football game and we would be upset if we missed it," she said. "But it's also about having family and friends over.

"Obviously, it's so much more than a football game."

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