Puppy Bowl vs. Kitten Bowl vs. Fish Bowl: Which was cutest?

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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:

Line-up

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.

Player Names

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.

Adaptability

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.

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Hosts

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.

Celebrities

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.

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Gameplay/Production

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.

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