By Barry Janoff
September 2, 2015: The prime-time steamroller that is Sunday Night Football on NBC — which was the top-rated show on TV last season — returns on Thursday, Sept. 10 with the NFL season opener featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers at the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
It then returns to its usual spot on Sunday, Sept. 13 when the New York Giants play at the Dallas Cowboys.
But before that happens, fans and viewers will get a plethora of marketing from the NBC Sports Group to support its 10th season of Sunday Night Football, led by a spot that features Carrie Underwood and 12 NFL players who helped in her performance of “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night."
Seven-time Grammy Award-winner and multi-platinum recording artist Underwood returns for her third season, performing the opening theme, set to the original Joan Jett song, “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
NBC said that Underwood would appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Sept.10 to air a sneak peek of the opening theme promo (and would also perform her new single “Smoke Break.”)
"The opening brings glitz and excitment to the game," Michele Tafoya, sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football, said during a media conference call on Wednesday (Sept. 2). "It adds adrenaline to the game before the game."
The players in this year's opening spot include (in alphabetic order): Odell Beckham, Jr. (New York Giants), Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers), Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys), Kam Chancellor (Seattle Seahawks), Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts), Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers), DeMarco Murray (Philadelphia Eagles), Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals), DeMarcus Ware (Denver Broncos), J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks).
According to Brown, “You gotta love it — Sunday Night Football, Carrie Underwood, it doesn’t get any better.”
Bryant said of his first Sunday Night Football opener shoot, “This has always been a dream.”
Matthews, who appears in his fourth Sunday Night Football opening spot, said, “The fact that I’ve been invited four times to come back is truly an honor. I must be great on camera . . . or I live close by.”
Earlier this summer, NBC Sports Group produced for movie theaters a 2½-minute "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night” behind-the-scenes look at the making of this year’s Sunday Night Football opener. The cinema spot was viewed "on more than 19,000 movie screens in theaters nationwide."
Part of the opening shows Beckham Jr. recreating his one-handed touchdown catch against the Cowboys, which coincides with the opening NBC game on Sunday night.
According to the Giants' wide receiver — who also shows off his dance moves in the spot — “I’m definitely blessed to be a part of this.” (See the behind-the-scenes spot here.)
For the fourth consecutive September-May TV season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football finished as the No. 1 show in prime time in household rating, viewership and the Adult 18-49 demographic, based on live plus same day data, according to NBC Sports Group.
For the 2014-2015 prime time TV season, Sunday Night Football ranked as the highest-rated (12.5 HH rating), most-watched show (21.3 million, viewers 2+), and the No. 1 program in the key Adults 18-49 demographic (7.7 rating), per NBC Sports.
2015 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thurs. Sept. 10 NFL Kickoff Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots
Sun. Sept. 13 New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Sun. Sept. 20 Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers
Sun. Sept. 27 Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions
Sun. Oct. 4 Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
*Sun. Oct. 11 San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants
*Sun. Oct. 18 New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
*Sun. Oct. 25 Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
*Sun. Nov. 1 Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos
*Sun. Nov. 8 Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
*Sun. Nov. 15 Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
*Sun. Nov. 22 Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers
**Thurs. Nov. 26 Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
*Sun. Nov. 29 New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
*Sun. Dec. 6 Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers
*Sun. Dec. 13 Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens
*Sun. Dec. 20 Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers
*Sun. Dec. 27 Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
*Sun. Jan. 3 TBD
** Thanksgiving Night Game *Flex Week