Animal kingdom counter-programming ruled Super Bowl Sunday as viewers had a choice between three cable specials, each more adorable than the last: Animal Planet’s veteran Puppy Bowl, Hallmark Channel’s newcomer rival Kitten Bowl and NatGeo’s sarcastic freshman Fish Bowl (which is, yup, mainly just a fish swimming in a bowl). Here’s how they ranked:
Puppy Bowl: The 10th annual telecast had puppies, kittens for the half-time show, penguin cheerleaders and a bird tweeting updates. — WINNER
Kitten Bowl: Kittens. Lots and lots of tiny kittens; 71 of them.
Fish Bowl: More than just the fish. Other fish joined at various points. There was a brief appearance by a puppy. Sometimes a child would do homework in the background or sports fans would eat snacks. Fish Bowl really lived up to its bizarre nonsensical promise.
Puppy Bowl: Just regular dog names — Mandy, Dee Dee, Ginger, etc.
Kitten Bowl: Football-themed names! Tim Teepaw, Tomcat Brady, Feline Manning, Brett Furve, Ferrell Owens, Meowshon Lynch. Why not? It’s not like if they’re adopted they’re obligated to keep the same names.– WINNER
Fish Bowl: “Goldy” plus unnamed guests.
Puppy Bowl: Yes: As of a few days ago, all but two of the 66 pups were adopted. — WINNER (TIE)
Kitten Bowl: Yes: All were adopted — WINNER (TIE)
Fish Bowl: We’re not sure. Since this was pre-taped, we’re not actually certain if this fish is still alive.
Puppy Bowl: Playful, but more serious and into the “game” than you might expect. The commentator really seems focused on the puppies scoring goals.
Kitten Bowl: Host Beth Stern, wife of Howard, and commentary by NY Yankees commentator John Sterling and former NFL cheerleader Renee Herlocker. Commentary varied from pun-fun (“Get ready for a total cat fight … they play to lick the competition”) to the bizarrely reaching (“The game ain’t over until the last whisker has fallen”). — WINNER
Fish Bowl: N/A.
Puppy Bowl: Plenty! First Lady Michelle Obama helped introduce the show with her pups Bo and Sunny. There was also some “commentary” by ‘Lil Bub and a special half-time performance by Keyboard Cat (playing Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”). This is especially impressive since the original Keyboard Cat technically died years ago. — WINNER
Kitten Bowl: Nicky Hilton, Rachael Ray and Regis Philbin stopped by. C’mon Hallmark, you couldn’t shell out for Grumpy Cat?
Fish Bowl: None spotted. I mean, the telecast is four hours of a fish in a bowl; we didn’t watch every minute. We’re pretty sure Jaws didn’t show up.
Puppy Bowl: Puppy toy action, plus spectacles like a kitten skydiving in for the half-time show. The production values here are about as high as you can imagine for pups playing with toys. — WINNER
Kitten Bowl: A bit low budget, like the early years of Puppy Bowl. But they’re moving balls through a pipe, tunnels, hoops, jumps, weave poles and — yes! — lasers.
Fish Bowl: There were some fun variations, teased with “something else happening” countdown clocks. Spoiler alert: In the final two minutes, the bowl is cleaned.
Winner: Puppy Bowl X edges out Kitten Bowl due to sheer volume and variety of cuteness on display.