The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), and typically the highest-rated single U.S. television broadcast of any given year. In turn, the program aired immediately following coverage of the game in the U.S. is typically also one of the year's most watched television programs. Super Bowl lead-out programs set the mold for programs that have followed important television events, such as season finales of certain shows. This article is a list of programs that have aired immediately following the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl provides an extremely strong lead-in to the programming on the channel following the game, the effects of which can last for several hours. For instance, in discussing the ratings of a local TV station, Buffalo, New York television critic Alan Pergament noted on the coattails from Super Bowl XLVII, which aired on CBS: "A paid program that ran on Channel 4 at 2:30 in the morning had a 1.3 rating. That's higher than some CW prime time shows get on WNLO-TV, Channel 4's sister station."
The Super Bowl lead-out is typically aired across most U.S. markets simultaneously, and is usually one hour in length, although before the game adopted its standard kickoff time of just after 6:00 p.m. ET in the early 1990s, it was not uncommon for longer programs to be broadcast. When the game moved into a later time slot in 1983, the game and its associated post-game programming would be scheduled until 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time / 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time, allowing for only one hour of network programming until the late local news. Outside of the few blowout games through the game's history, these programs never have started anywhere near the mentioned time, due to the extended length of the pre-game, halftime, and post-game festivities. Viewership for ABC's airing of Alias in 2003 after Super Bowl XXXVII was notably dampened by an unusually long, 40-minute post-game show (which also included a performance by Bon Jovi prior to the trophy presentation), which pushed the start time past 11:00 p.m. ET. Although a series high, the episode was one of the lowest-rated Super Bowl lead-outs.
It is common for affiliates in the home markets of the competing teams to delay the lead-out show further, until after additional local post-game coverage (though in 2018, despite the Philadelphia Eagles's win, NBC's Philadelphia station WCAU chose to carry post-game coverage to their Cozi TV subchannel instead in order to carry This Is Us as scheduled, to reduce viewer inconvenience).
In 1979, 1999, 2010, and 2017, and largely from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, this slot was used to showcase a new series or movie, such as The A-Team or The Wonder Years, or broadcast a special episode of an "up-and-coming" series. However, many of the series were ultimately unsuccessful, with some being canceled within a matter of weeks. Since then, virtually all of the programs in the post-game timeslot have been special episodes of series that had already aired for at least one season.
The most recent Super Bowl lead-out program to have also been a series premiere is The World's Best, which followed CBS's broadcast of Super Bowl LIII in 2019. A previous example, Undercover Boss (which was launched following Super Bowl XLIV on CBS) attracted the largest peak half-hour viewership of any Super Bowl lead-out program to date, with 75.474 million viewers. Three other series have had their season premieres following the Super Bowl: two editions of Survivor, the Australian and all-star series (which followed Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII), which aired on CBS, and The Voice, which launched its second season following Super Bowl XLVI on NBC.
Although Fox almost never programs time slots after 10:00 p.m. except on Saturdays (instead encouraging its affiliates to air local news in the slot), Fox has aired lead-out programming after the Super Bowl ever since it began airing the game in 1997, which normally preempts local newscasts. The Fox affiliates in the market of the winning team do not necessarily have to do this (an example is Fox flagship WNYW, which aired a post-Super Bowl news broadcast following Super Bowl XLII and delayed the start of the House episode that was Fox's lead-out program until the newscast's conclusion).
Currently, a regular-length episode of a drama series will usually air, although in some cases a one-hour episode of a sitcom (normally 30 minutes in length), or two episodes of different sitcoms paired together, may air instead. Quite often the selected series is one of the "prestige" shows for the network showing the game that year, or a moderate hit (e.g. The X-Files on Fox, Criminal Minds on CBS, or Grey's Anatomy on ABC), which the network wants to give a higher profile. The Simpsons has aired in the slot twice, with both airings being paired with the premieres of animated sitcoms (Family Guy in 1999 and American Dad! in 2005). An occasional practice used to maximize the effect of the lead-out is to make the Super Bowl episode a cliffhanger, with a story that concludes later in the week in the program's regularly scheduled timeslot.
Because the Super Bowl is on a Sunday, before the mid-2000s, networks never carried a new episode of their weeknight late night talk shows after the game, lead-out program and local news. However this has changed since then, usually after the late local news, in order to give those programs an additional promotional push to those shows rarely found on American television and to introduce the current generation of hosts more willing to promote their series on more than a traditional Monday-to-Friday schedule. This was first done with the live premiere episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live after Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, followed by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012 after Super Bowl XLVI, finishing a week of shows recorded from Indianapolis, and in 2013, a special episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson from New Orleans after Super Bowl XLVII. In 2015, Jimmy Fallon had another new episode after Super Bowl XLIX from Phoenix, this time as the host of The Tonight Show. In 2016 for Super Bowl 50, a special live episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premiered directly after the game rather than a primetime series episode. The Late Late Show with James Corden also aired a special edition after local newscasts.
The most common lead-out program is the news magazine 60 Minutes, which has aired after four Super Bowls (VI, XIV, XVI, XXVI). Two other series have followed the big game three times—Lassie (I, II, IV) and The Wonderful World of Disney (I, VII, XI). Two more series have appeared in the time slot twice—The Simpsons (XXXIII, XXXIX) and Survivor (XXXV, XXXVIII)
The following is a list of shows that have aired after the Super Bowl in the United States:
|Date||Super Bowl||Network||Program||Episode||U.S. viewers
|January 15, 1967||I||CBS||Lassie||"Lassie's Litter Bit"||&
|NBC||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||"Willie and the Yank: The Mosby Raiders" (Part II)||&
|January 14, 1968||II||CBS||Local programming, then
|January 12, 1969||III||NBC||G.E. College Bowl||&
|January 11, 1970||IV||CBS||Lassie||"The Road Back"||34%|
|January 17, 1971||V||NBC||Bing Crosby National Pro-Am golf tournament||36%|
|January 16, 1972||VI||CBS||60 Minutes||36%|
|January 14, 1973||VII||NBC||The Wonderful World of Disney||"The Mystery in Dracula's Castle"||44%|
|January 13, 1974||VIII||CBS||Local programming, then
The New Perry Mason
|"The Case of the Tortured Titan"||15.058||20%|
|January 12, 1975||IX||NBC||NBC Nightly News||15.924||28%|
|January 18, 1976||X||CBS||Phoenix Open golf tournament||22.363||31%|
|January 9, 1977||XI||NBC||The Big Event||Raid on Entebbe||42.816||37%|
|January 15, 1978||XII||CBS||All in the Family||"Archie and the Super Bowl"||35.472||47%|
|January 21, 1979||XIII||NBC||Brothers and Sisters||"Pilot"||31.722||32%|
|January 20, 1980||XIV||CBS||60 Minutes||40.746||50%|
|January 25, 1981||XV||NBC||CHiPs||"11-99: Officer Needs Help" (originally aired January 18, 1981)||26%|
|January 24, 1982||XVI||CBS||60 Minutes||36%|
|January 30, 1983||XVII||NBC||The A-Team||"Children of Jamestown" (first regular episode)||21.910||39%|
|January 22, 1984||XVIII||CBS||Airwolf||"Shadow of the Hawke" (two-hour pilot)||27.874||36%|
|January 20, 1985||XIX||ABC||MacGruder and Loud||"Pilot"||38%|||
|January 26, 1986||XX||NBC||The Last Precinct||"The Last Precinct" (pilot)||39.729||25%|||
|January 25, 1987||XXI||CBS||Hard Copy||"Pilot"||33%|||
|January 31, 1988||XXII||ABC||The Wonder Years||"Pilot"||28.976||31%|
|January 22, 1989||XXIII||NBC||The Brotherhood of the Rose||Television film (part 1; two hours)||36%|
|January 28, 1990||XXIV||CBS||Grand Slam||"Pilot"||30.765||30%|||
|January 27, 1991||XXV||ABC||Davis Rules||"A Man for All Reasons" (pilot)||26.695||25%|||
|January 26, 1992||XXVI||CBS||60 Minutes
|60 Minutes was an abbreviated 13-minute edition and was apparently a last-minute addition to the schedule, consisting of an interview of Bill and Hillary Clinton addressing the Gennifer Flowers affair.
The length (i.e., 47 or 60 minutes) of the edition of 48 Hours which followed is not clear.
|January 31, 1993||XXVII||NBC||Homicide: Life on the Street||"Gone for Goode" (Pilot)||28.121||31%|||
|January 30, 1994||XXVIII||NBC||The Good Life||"Pilot"||23.012||22%|||
|The John Larroquette Show||"Eggs"||17.708||22%|||
|January 29, 1995||XXIX||ABC||Extreme||"Pilot"||22.594||25%|||
|January 28, 1996||XXX||NBC||Friends||"The One After the Superbowl" (Parts 1 and 2)||52.925||46%|||
|January 26, 1997||XXXI||Fox||The X-Files||"Leonard Betts"||29.098||29%|||
|January 25, 1998||XXXII||NBC||3rd Rock from the Sun||"36! 24! 36! Dick" (Parts 1 and 2)||33.662||34%|||
|January 31, 1999||XXXIII||Fox||Family Guy
|"Death Has a Shadow" (Pilot)
"Sunday, Cruddy Sunday"
|January 30, 2000||XXXIV||ABC||The Practice at 10:18 PM ET||"New Evidence" (Part 1)||23.847||27%|||
|January 28, 2001||XXXV||CBS||Survivor: The Australian Outback at 10:19 PM ET||"Stranded" (season premiere)||45.369||39%|||
|February 3, 2002||XXXVI||Fox||Malcolm in the Middle at 10:38 PM ET||"Company Picnic" (Parts 1 and 2)||21.445||21%|||
|January 26, 2003||XXXVII||ABC||Alias at 11:15 PM ET||"Phase One"||17.362||20%|||
|February 1, 2004||XXXVIII||CBS||Survivor: All-Stars at 10:58 PM||"They're Back!" (season premiere)||33.535||32%|||
|February 6, 2005||XXXIX||Fox||The Simpsons at 10:45 PM ET
American Dad! at 11:18 PM ET
|"Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass"
|February 5, 2006||XL||ABC||Grey's Anatomy at 10:05 PM ET||"It's the End of the World"||37.8||27%|||
|February 4, 2007||XLI||CBS||Criminal Minds at 10:20 PM ET||"The Big Game"||26.314||26%|||
|February 3, 2008||XLII||Fox||House at 10:30 PM ET||"Frozen"||29.045||27%|||
|February 1, 2009||XLIII||NBC||The Office at 10:45 PM ET||"Stress Relief" (one-hour episode)||22.905||21%|||
|February 7, 2010||XLIV||CBS||Undercover Boss at 10:15 PM ET||"Waste Management" (series premiere)||38.654||32%|||
|February 6, 2011||XLV||Fox||Glee at 10:35 PM ET||"The Sue Sylvester Shuffle"||26.796||25%|||
|February 5, 2012||XLVI||NBC||The Voice at 10:15 PM ET||"The Blind Auditions, Part 1" (season premiere)||37.611||31%|||
|February 3, 2013||XLVII||CBS||Elementary at 11:15 PM ET||"The Deductionist"||20.800||23%|||
|February 2, 2014||XLVIII||Fox||New Girl at 10:20 PM ET
Brooklyn Nine-Nine at 10:55 PM ET
"Operation: Broken Feather"
|February 1, 2015||XLIX||NBC||The Blacklist at 10:38 PM ET||"Luther Braxton" (Part 1)||25.724||24%|||
|February 7, 2016||50||CBS||The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 10:54 PM ET||Guests: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, Megyn Kelly, Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele||20.55||25%|||
|February 5, 2017||LI||Fox||24: Legacy at 11:00 PM ET||"12:00 PM – 1:00 PM" (series premiere)||17.58||22%|||
|February 4, 2018||LII||NBC||This Is Us at 10:45 PM ET||"Super Bowl Sunday"||26.98|||
|February 3, 2019||LIII||CBS||The World's Best at 10:36 PM ET||Auditions 1 (series premiere)||22.21|||
|February 2, 2020||LIV||Fox||TBA||TBA||TBD|
|February 7, 2021||LV||CBS||TBA||TBA||TBD|
|February 6, 2022||LVI||NBC||TBA||TBA||TBD|
|February 5, 2023||LVII||Fox||TBA||TBA||TBD|
CTV, which currently airs the Super Bowl in Canada in simulcast with the U.S. broadcaster, has aired its own specific lead-out programs for Canadian audiences, as the network does not necessarily own domestic rights to the program airing as the lead-out of the U.S. broadcaster. For example, after Super Bowl XLV, CTV aired the season finale of its original drama Flashpoint, as Glee rights were held by Global. Global counter-programmed the game with a "Sue-Per Bowl Sunday" marathon of Glee encores, and Glee-themed episodes of The Simpsons ("Elementary School Musical") and The Office to lead into its simulcast of the new episode, "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle". Citytv similarly acquired rights to the Super Bowl LIII lead-out The World's Best. Super Bowl XLVI and Super Bowl LII provided exceptions, as CTV is the Canadian rightsholder of both The Voice and This Is Us.
CTV was to air a "sneak peek" of the second season of its original sitcom Spun Out after Super Bowl XLIX, but the premiere was pulled after cast member J. P. Manoux was charged with voyeurism. The season 2 premiere of MasterChef Canada was pushed ahead to air in its place.
|February 6, 2011||XLV||Flashpoint||"Fault Lines (Part 1)" (season 3 finale)|||
|February 5, 2012||XLVI||The Voice||"The Blind Auditions, Part 1" (season 2 premiere, simulcast with NBC)|||
|February 3, 2013||XLVII||Motive||"Creeping Tom" (series premiere)||.|
|February 1, 2015||XLIX||MasterChef Canada||""Fit to Be Tied" (season 2 premiere)|||
|February 7, 2016||50||DC's Legends of Tomorrow||"White Knights" (world premiere episode) [nb 1]|||
|February 5, 2017||LI||Letterkenny||"Ain't No Reason to Get Excited" (broadcast television premiere)|||
|February 4, 2018||LII||This Is Us||"Super Bowl Sunday" (simulcast with NBC)|
|February 3, 2019||LIII||SC with Jay and Dan||Post-game edition with Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole.|||
Letterkenny [...] is introduced, post-Super Bowl, to those who don’t see it on CraveTV[...] (It’s season one, episode one on Sunday).
Extreme is an American television adventure drama that premiered on ABC on January 29, 1995 following Super Bowl XXIX. Starring James Brolin, Extreme was centered on a search and rescue team which operated in the Rocky Mountains.
Although thirteen episodes were ordered and the network having enough faith in the series to give it the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot, Extreme could not find an audience and ABC cancelled the series after seven episodes aired. The final episode aired on April 6, 1995 and the remaining six episodes were never aired in the United States.
The failure of Extreme forced a reconsideration of post-Super Bowl programming strategy by the major networks. NBC chose to commission a special episode of Friends to air immediately following Super Bowl XXX the next year and the experiment was such a success that the other networks have for the most part chosen to air one of their established series after covering the Super Bowl, with particular attention paid to season premieres of popular reality competitions like Survivor and The Voice. There have only been four exceptions; Fox debuted Family Guy in 1999, American Dad! in 2005, and 24: Legacy in 2016 while CBS launched Undercover Boss in 2010.Grand Slam (TV series)
Grand Slam is an American action series drama that aired from January 28, 1990 to March 14, 1990. The series premiered after Super Bowl XXIV on CBS, but never found an audience and was cancelled after six episodes leaving two unaired.Hammocking
Hammocking is a technique used in broadcast programming whereby an unpopular television program is scheduled between two popular ones in the hope that viewers will watch it. This is especially used for new shows. Public broadcasting also uses this as a way of promoting serious but valuable content. Hammocking may lead to situations where even if programs remain weak, audience rating will be high.
The main theory in play is that audiences are less likely to change channels for a single time slot. However, it is a concept mainly limited to prime time, where "appointment television" is strong. However, there is a risk. If the middle show is weak, the audience could change the channel altogether even if they “would have stayed if the two popular programs had formed a block.”Hammocking has been fairly reliable over the years. It was largely discovered by accident in the late 1950s: Michael Dann is credited with developing the concept after December Bride, thought to be a major hit at the time, underperformed when it lost its lead-in, I Love Lucy. In some cases, the middle show becomes a hit. When the new show becomes just as popular, it has caught on. NBC used this strategy for years with its Must See TV Thursday night schedule, where the strong series on the night, Friends, Seinfeld/Frasier/Will & Grace and ER, provided two half-hour hammock spots in the night where newer sitcoms were positioned in order to provide strength throughout the night and build the network's bench on other nights if they proved successful, though many of the programs were critically derided for poor writing and acting and "floating by" on the ratings of other shows (The Single Guy and Union Square being the most prominent and higher-rated examples). So dominant was Must See TV, that a common industry joke of that era was the comparison of the hammocked shows to NBC instead placing a test pattern in the half-hour between the end of one top-of-the-hour show and the start of the other, and garnering equivalent ratings for much less effort and cost.Also related is the concept of tent-pole programming, or using popular, well-established television shows scheduled in pivotal time periods to boost the ratings of the shows around them.
In the 2003-04 season, NBC experimented with a new hammocking format with Donald Trump's The Apprentice, which aired between Friends and ER. "Much was made of the ratings for The Apprentice, but in truth, even in its protected spot, it lost almost 4 points compared with the Friends lead-in and 2 points compared with ER. Moreover, when moved to the unprotected Wednesday night slot, it dropped into the bottom third of the ratings."More recently, ABC has attempted to hammock programming after Modern Family and a drama after (in this case, either Revenge, Designated Survivor, or A Million Little Things), to middling or little success. Trying to hammock programs that have little in common with each other can have unusual consequences: TNBC, a block of programming NBC carried during the 1990s that had been aimed at teenagers, had a lead-in from Weekend Today, a news program targeting those teens' parents. By the end of TNBC's run, after the block's teen viewership had declined, the average age of those recognized by the Nielsens as watching TNBC was 41 years old, driven mainly by the lead-in from Weekend Today.The Super Bowl has regularly been used as a hammocking opportunity to take advantage of the massive lead-out audience the game produces. See list of Super Bowl lead-out programs for more information.
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