When CBS debuts “The World’s Best” after Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night, the network is hoping the result is closer to “Undercover Boss” than “The Late Show.”
The massive audience that the Super Bowl garners — it’s drawn over 100 million for the past nine years — can provide a boost to an existing series or help launch a new one. Last year, NBC aired a highly-anticipated episode of “This is Us,” which ended up drawing 27 million viewers and a 9.3 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.
CBS entertainment president Kelly Kahl, who used to run primetime scheduling for the network, has been through this many times. So has CBS: Super Bowl LIII marks the 20th time the network has aired the big game. “We’ve done this quite a few times and, seeing what works and what doesn’t, the question you tend to ask yourself is what show can be most helped?” Kahl said during a conversation at the television critics association press tour.
The last time CBS aired the Super Bowl, in 2015, the network made the unconventional move of airing Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” directly after the big game, the first time a late-night series got the prized time slot. That special, live episode managed to draw just 20.6 million viewers, the third-lowest total for any show airing after the Super Bowl.
“The World’s Best” is from two reality TV heavyweights in Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell. The first-of-its-kind global talent competition features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet, according to the show’s official logline. They not only have to impress American judges but will also need to break through the “wall of the world,” featuring 50 of the world’s most accomplished experts from every field of entertainment. Only one act will ultimately be crowned “The World’s Best.”
James Corden will host the competition. Faith Hill, Drew Barrymore and RuPaul are the American judges on the “AGT”-like property.
“We know [World’s Best] has broad appeal,” Kahl continued. “The Super Bowl gets the broadest appeal and biggest audience all year. And here’s a show we saw that appeals to men, women, kinds, older adults.”
In 2010, CBS premiered “Undercover Boss” after Super Bowl XLIV to 38.7 million viewers, the third-highest of any post-Super Bowl show, behind only “Survivor” season 2 premiere (2001 – 45.4 million) and “Friends” (1996 – 52.9 million). Kahl sees a similarity between “World’s Best” and “Undercover Boss.”
“We went back to ‘Undercover Boss,'” he explained.”There was a tease that we were able to do. As we executed [that] throughout the game, people were like ‘Yea, I need to see how this goes.’ And we’re hoping for kind of a similar result.”
Super Bowl LIII kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on CBS, with “The World’s Best” airing around 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m PT.