A outtake from "Behind the Scenes at the 2017 Kitten Bowl." Image: New York Daily News/YouTube
An outtake from “Behind the Scenes at the 2017 Kitten Bowl.” Image: New York Daily News/YouTube

Who needs all that Super Bowl hoopla from the NFL when you’ve got dozens of cute, cuddly kitties cavorting on TV for Kitten Bowl IV?

A viewing party for Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl IV will be held at the Burbank Animal Shelter from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Sunday with attendees encouraged to adopt a pet from the shelter.

Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl programming will begin at noon with a pregame show, be followed at 12:30 p.m. with “Kitten Bowl IV: Playoff Games” with the championship game starting at 2 p.m.

The pregame show will be repeated at 3 and 6 p.m., the playoff games at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. and the championship game at 5 and 8 p.m.

Participating kittens include Furry Bradshaw, Tony Slo-Mo, Mew Brees and Paw-Dell Beckham Jr.,

The participating kittens are provided by the North Shore Animal League America and Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation. They have all been adopted, according to Hallmark Channel.

The Kitten Bowl has resulted in the adoption of thousands of cats and kittens and some puppies and rabbits. It is a core part of Crown Media Family Networks PETS initiative to showcase the plight of homeless animals and the pets available for adoption through local shelters, said Bill Abbott, president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark Channel’s parent company.

The Kitten Bowl is “very fun” to announce, said New York Yankees broadcaster John Sterling, its play-by-play announcer.

“It’s very different than doing talk shows and play-by-play which is extemporaneous,” Sterling told City News Service last month during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour.

“This is tightly formatted. They shoot the kittens doing all these adorable things and then we supply the background of what they’re doing.”

The announcing sessions last a total of about seven-to-eight hours, Sterling said.

Sterling said he watches the Kitten Bowl and “it is amazing what” 3 Ball Entertainment, its production company, does in “putting it together.”

Sterling said that after the initial broadcast in 2014 he was amazed that when the Yankees would play on the road, the broadcasters from the other American League teams would come up to him and say “I can’t believe it. You did the Kitten Bowl.”

Mary Carillo is Sterling’s broadcast partner. Author, television personality and animal advocate Beth Stern hosts the telecast. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason contributes to the telecast as “commissioner” of the Feline Football League.

The next addition to Hallmark Channel’s pet-centric programming is the basketball-themed “Meow Madness,” which will air on April 3, the day of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament championship game.

Animal Planet will again also have football-themed pet programming on Super Bowl Sunday with Puppy Bowl XIII, whose pregame show starts at 11 a.m., with Puppy Bowl III beginning at noon.

Puppy Bowl XIII’s 78 puppies came from 34 shelters and rescue organizations in 22 states, including Camarillo-based Paw Works. The puppies include three with special needs, Doobert, who is deaf, Lucky, who is missing a leg, and Winston, who is hearing and sight impaired.

–City News Service

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