‘Kitten Bowl’ Chases ‘Puppy Bowl’ Up Ratings Tree, Falls Shy With 1 Million Viewers (Updated)

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The 3-hour celebration of felines couldn’t catch up to Animal Planet’s 2-hour canine competition

Hallmark Channel scored with the debut of its “Kitten Bowl,” which drew an average of 1 million viewers during the competition’s Super Bowl Sunday premiere.

The first run of the cable network’s newest annual tradition aired from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. Counting the telecast’s three encores, the “Kitten Bowl” reached a total 6.1 million viewers P2+. The program, part of the network’s advocacy campaign “Pet Project,” outperformed the timeslot average from a year ago in households (41 percent); adults 25-54 (39 percent); and women 25-54 (14 percent).

“Kitten Bowl” brought Hallmark Channel its highest total audience ever in the time period on Super Bowl Sunday.

Also read: Puppy Bowl Hits Ratings High With Latest Canine Competition

Of course, the special was not the only four-pawed game in town. “Kitten Bowl” put up a fight against the veteran furry counter-programming — Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl X.” The 10th anniversary of the canine competition earned 3.3 million viewers in its 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. premiere. The 12-hour block roped in 13.5 million viewers, a record for the program.

The “Kitten Bowl” was hosted by Beth Stern, TV personality, national spokesperson for North Shore Animal League America and Howard Stern’s wife, with commentary by New York Yankees announcer John Sterling. Special appearances included Regis Philbin, Hoda Kotb, Rachael Ray, Lisa Vanderpump, Rocco Dispirito, Nicky Hilton, Chuck Nice, Bob Harper, and more.

Also read: Animal Planet Calls Hallmark Channel’s ‘Puppy Bowl’ Rip-Off a ‘Copy Cat’

“We’re thrilled with the performance of our inaugural broadcast of Kitten Bowl,” Bill Abbott, president and chief executive office, Crown Media Family Networks, said in a statement. “The show clearly resonated with viewers and took social media by storm, trending on Twitter much of the day. We are extremely proud that all 71 of the kitten athletes who participated found loving homes, while Hallmark Channel further raised awareness of the epidemic of pet homelessness in our country.”

“Kitten Bowl” is executive produced by JD Roth, Todd Nelson, Adam Kaloustian and Brant Pinvidic of Eyeworks USA (previously 3 Ball Productions) whose credits include “Biggest Loser” (NBC) and “My Cat From Hell” (Animal Planet), among others. Jesse Drollette co-executive produced.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story compared “Kitten Bowl”‘s unduplicated audience (3.2 million) with “Puppy Bowl”‘s P2+ average audience (3.3 million). It has been corrected to reflect the more apples-to-apples comparison, which widens the viewership gap between the programs. TheWrap regrets the error.