Season in and season out, the Super Bowl is the most-watched broadcast across all of television for the calendar year. So when the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks raise the Lombardi Trophy this weekend, NBC Sports will be celebrating right alongside the winning 53-man roster. Immediately after that, it will be “The Blacklist’s” turn to pop some champagne while dreaming of ostentatious Nielsen numbers.
The critically acclaimed James Spader drama returns on Sunday night in the highly coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot. The result is guaranteed to hand “The Blacklist” its most-watched episode ever — likely by a landslide — though it remains to be seen just how well it will do.
NBC won’t make predictions because a) that would be unbecoming and b) they really don’t know. A lousy blowout (like last year’s Seahawks-Broncos contest) won’t help, and overtime — while it would be amazing for holding viewership late — could really push the timeslot too far towards (or possibly past) 11 p.m. ET.
On Jan. 28, 1996, “Friends” scored a monstrous 52.9 million viewers after the big game; hauling in a 28.2 rating in the advertiser-sought 18-49 demographic. That dwarfs the second-place finisher, CBS’s “Survivor” from 2001, which earned 45.4 million viewers and a 21.8 rating. Those two are the only shows since 1988 (from which reliable records are readily available) to best the massive 40-million-plus viewer mark or a gaudy 20-plus rating.
In third place is 2010’s “Undercover Boss,” besting 2006’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and 2012’s “The Voice” in total viewers, but not in the key demo rating.
At the bottom of the pile is 2003’s “Alias,” which got 17.4 million total viewers and an 8.2 demo rating. Up one spot is 2013’s “Elementary,” which had more total viewers (20.9 million) but the lowest demo rating on our list (7.8).
Rounding out the Bottom five are “Malcolm in the Middle” (2002), “Family Guy” (2009) and “Extreme” (1995).
See TheWrap’s list of the 27 Most and Least Watched Post-Super Bowl TV Shows: