Every August, diehard football fanatics ready themselves for the upcoming NFL season. Millions of them—over 33 million in 2013, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association—join their friends, colleagues and even strangers in fantasy football leagues, where they can draft NFL players and manage their own teams throughout the season. For years, fantasy leagues were just about sports—until now.
Animal lovers can join the fun of a fantasy league this year by drafting the cuddly puppies participating in Animal Planet’s 10th-annual Puppy Bowl or the cute kittens participating in The Hallmark Channel’s first-ever Kitten Bowl. Both the Puppy Bowl and Kitten Bowl will air on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 2), on Animal Planet and The Hallmark Channel, respectively.
The Puppy Bowl turns 10 this year, however, the Puppy Bowl X Fantasy Game is a first for the show. “Puppy Bowl, like most epic sporting events, is a genuine social phenomenon, and we’re taking full advantage of that by offering multiplatform experiences—like our Fantasy Game—that use social media to make Puppy Bowl even more fun to watch for millions of viewers,” said a statement from Miguel Monteverde, vice president of digital media at Discovery Communications.
Puppy Bowl fans can draft three of these 11 puppies to their fantasy team. Photos courtesy of Animal Planet.
With the Puppy Bowl X Fantasy Game, dog lovers can draft three puppies from 11 all-star canine players—although, 14 puppies are slotted in the starting lineup—that have full profiles available with stats like breed, age and a fun fact. Come Puppy Bowl Sunday, Fantasy Game coaches can track their team’s tackles, touchdowns and takeaways with Animal Planet’s online leaderboard. Fantasy Game fans might want to pay close attention to pups that aren’t on their team, because at the end of the game, fans can vote in real time for which puppy will take home the Most Valuable Puppy (MVP) title.
While kittens have received some love from the Puppy Bowl in the past—last year, kittens were the centerpiece of the game’s Kitty Halftime Show, which will return this year—kitty lovers have not been afforded the opportunity to watch felines get in on the football action. Enter Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl. The Hallmark Channel teamed up with North Shore Animal League America (a no-kill shelter and animal adoption organization) and Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation for the first-ever feline football showdown.
This is just a sampling of the 71 kittens participating in the first-ever Kitten Bowl. Viewers can draft 11 kittens to a team of their own through the Feline Fantasy League. Photos courtesy of The Hallmark Channel.
Kitty fans can get a first glimpse of the participating kittens through the Feline Fantasy League (FFL), which is hosted on Hallmark Channel USA’s Facebook page. Through the FFL, fans can view in-depth profiles of the 71 kittens playing in the four Kitten Bowl teams—the North Shore Bengals, the Last Hope Lions, the Home & Family Felines and the Cedar Cove Cougars. FFL coaches can draft 11 kittens on their team, and once users creates their own team of kittens, they can create a custom kitten trading cards using personal photos of their cats. On game day, Kitten Bowl viewers can expect two preliminary playoffs, along with a championship match, during which a winner will be crowned.
Though both specials air on Super Bowl Sunday, animal lovers can get both their puppy and kitty fix. The Kitten Bowl begins at 12 p.m. (EST), while the Puppy Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. Let the games begin!