‘Undercover Boss': Did CBS’ Post-Bowl Bet Pay Off?

Ratings were huge, and the show smashed several records. It’s too soon to call it the next “Wonder Years,” however

Last Updated: February 8, 2010 @ 1:27 PM

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding the record-setting (sort of) performance for Sunday’s Super Bowl is the fact that CBS’ decision to slot "Undercover Boss" after the game paid off. Handsomely. 

The premiere of the reality show brought in 38.6 million viewers, scored a 16.2 rating in adults 18-49, and set the following records, per Nielsen and CBS:

 

– Largest audience ever for a new series following the Super Bowl since the advent of people meters in 1987.

 

– Largest audience ever to watch the premiere episode of a reality series.

 

– Most-watched new series premiere overall on television since "The Dolly Show" on Sept. 27, 1987 (39.47m).

 

– Third-largest post-Super Bowl audience behind "Friends" on Jan. 28, 1996, and CBS’ "Survivor 2" on Jan 28, 2001.

 

  — Largest audience for an entertainment program this season as well as the best ratings in households, adults 25-54, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34. 

 

There had been some head-scratching over CBS’ decision to launch a new show after the Big Game. In recent years, networks have stuck with tried-and-true fare, since post-Bowl bows haven’t always translated into long-term success.

 

"We cannot fathom why CBS is going with ‘Undercover Boss,’ which looks like a terrible show," website Zap2It.com wrote over the weekend.

 

Now we know why CBS made the call.

 

Still, there’s no guarantee "Boss" will end up being a hit. It could be the next "The Wonder Years" (post-Bowl, 1988) — but history suggests it might end up the next "Davis Rules" (1991).