“What to air after the Big Game?” That is the millions-of-viewers question that faces one broadcast TV network each year, when its turn rolls around to host the Super Bowl.
For Super Bowl LV, airing Sunday, Feb. 7 and pitting the Kansas City Chiefs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, CBS announced in early December that its Queen Latifah-led reboot of The Equalizer would lay claim to the cushiest real estate in the business, leading out of a championship game that could draw 100 million viewers.
Yet while following the Super Bowl invariably brings a supersized audience, is it always a bellwether of future success? In the gallery below, TVLine has singled out five shows that unarguably Fumbled the opportunity, 10 that in one way (ratings) or another (quality) scored a metaphorical Touchdown, and one that, though highly regarded, merely put up a Field Goal.
But first, some Fun Facts!
🏈 Over the past decade, the show following the Super Bowl has averaged 24 million total viewers (in Live+Same Day tallies).
🏈 Over the past 25 years, a drama series has been chosen to lead out of the Super Bowl 11 times. Comedies have aired seven times, reality-TV has gotten the nod six times, and a late-night talk show claimed the coveted spot once.
🏈 The last comedy to air after the Super Bowl was Fox’s pairing of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which in 2014 respectively drew 26.3 million and 15.1 million viewers.
🏈 Of the last 25 shows to follow the Super Bowl, only two wound up not getting renewed that year: CBS’ The World’s Best and Fox’s 24: Legacy reboot.
🏈 Excluding The World’s Best, CBS’ track record over the past 25 years is super-solid, as it readies to unleash The Equalizer. Late Show With Stephen Colbert (which followed the Big Game in 2016) is going strong, Elementary (2013) ran for another six seasons, Undercover Boss (2010) is now in Season 10, Criminal Minds (2007) went on for another 13 seasons, and Survivor (2001, 2004) is waiting to start production on Season 41.
🏈 Fox’s Family Guy debuted after the Super Bowl in 1999, and now is in Season 19.
🏈 Over the past 25 years, a series premiere has been chosen to lead out of the Super Bowl just five times (most recently with CBS’ The World’s Best in 2019) — while in the 28 years before Friends followed the Big Game, a pilot episode got picked 12 times.
🏈 Though that 1996 episode of Friends lays claim to the largest audience on record for a Super Bowl lead-out, CBS’ All in the Family (in 1978) and 60 Minutes (1980) delivered sliiiightly larger shares (47 and 50 percent) of their available audiences.
🏈 ABC’s Alias (in 2003) and CBS’ Elementary (in 2013) were saddled with some of the latest start times (after 11 pm ET) on record for a Super Bowl aftershow. Conversely, the record-setting Friends episode enjoyed one of the earliest kickoffs, airing just a few minutes after 10 o’clock.