Watching the Super Bowl in London

7 Feb

“Well, that was an expat experience!” said the friend who had us over to watch the Super Bowl. It was just after 3 a.m. and the game had just ended. Watching the Super Bowl abroad is something else, especially since it starts at 11 p.m. because of the five-hour time difference. It felt weird gathering around the television with snacks and drinks when most people would be getting to bed. I actually picked the perfect week to be jetlagged — I’ve been going to bed at 3 or 4 a.m. every night since Last Tuesday, so I was well prepared for the Super Bowl.

I was surprised to find BBC 1, a freeview channel even our crappy aerial (antenna) picks up, was broadcasting the game. They used Fox’s coverage, so they had the same announcers and even the spots about Glee being on afterward, even though Glee wasn’t going to be on BBC 1. The thing that made it grossly different from watching it on Fox in the US was … no commercials. It didn’t dawn on me until our friend mentioned it, but I guess it makes sense — all the ads (“adverts”) are for an American audience. So while Fox cuts to a million-dollar ad, BBC 1 cuts to a British dude and Tiki Barber (how did he get that job?!) discussing the game. I think the highlight was when the British dude compared the Steelers’ performance to a recent Manchester United game. Way to put an English spin on the most American game. We couldn’t have that — the Super Bowl is not the Super Bowl unless there are commercials, especially for someone like me who isn’t the biggest football fan. So we devised a complicated system. Our friends have a Slingbox, which allows them to watch American TV over the Internet through their relatives in the US’ TV. The problem with the Slingbox is that the reception was really crappy, especially since the relatives were watching the game too. So we watched the game on BBC 1, but when a commercial break came, we switched to Fox on the Slingbox, then switched back when the game returned. For whatever reason BBC 1 seemed to be five seconds ahead of Fox, perhaps because the British don’t delay for wardrobe malfunctions. The system, though tiring, was working until after the halftime show, when all of a sudden the Fox game was a good 10 minutes behind. We couldn’t figure out what happened, until our friend got an email from his sister saying she paused the game so they could eat. So we went the entire second half without commercials, just British commentary. They said some pretty hilarious stuff that I can’t remember now, I really wish I had been live blogging/tweeting it.

So for those wondering, yes you can — and we did — watch the Super Bowl from England, but it’s not exactly the same as watching it at 6 p.m. in the states.

(An addendum to my previous post on tortilla chips: our friends asked if we could bring some snacks with us. What did they suggest? Tortilla chips and guacamole. I almost laughed when Stephen told me. So last night we went, once again, on a hunt for tortilla chips. Turns out all the places that would sell them — Whole Foods, Tesco Metro, Panzers — closed at 6 p.m. or earlier on Sunday. You can drink any day, any time in London, but you can’t buy groceries after 6 p.m. on Sunday. So we ended up at Tesco Express, the convenience store-like grocer near the Tube. It seems Londoners only like two types of chips — potato chips, which they sell in an obscene amount of flavors and varieties (they had a six pack of “meat” flavored chips, including the new steak flavor. Tempting!), and “maize” snacks, like cheese puffs and onion rings (Funyuns). That’s it — no pretzels and especially no tortilla chips. Of course Tesco Express had no tortilla chips, but what they did have puzzled me — a salsa, guacamole and sour cream dip pack. It was like it was made for Super Bowl parties. But what else are you supposed to eat it with besides tortilla chips? Baby carrots? Pita chips? (Which they also don’t sell.) Why would you sell something like that and not sell tortilla chips? I was tempted to ask an employee, but we decided to give up and settled on Pringles, a variety of potato chips and generic Funyuns. One day I will find tortilla chips in this great city. One day … )

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