‘Undercover Boss': Premiere Gives CBS a Bounce vs. Olympics

Silver medal performance indicates CBS just might have a new unscripted hit on its hands

Last Updated: February 15, 2010 @ 2:11 PM

How ’bout them Hooters!

That’s probably not the exact wording CBS executives used this morning while discussing the pretty amazing numbers for Sunday’s timeslot premiere for new reality series "Undercover Boss." But however you describe it, "Boss" was pretty boss in its first non-Super Bowl Sunday outing (which, in case you missed it, featured the CEO of Hooters).

Despite airing opposite the Olympics, "Boss" averaged an impressive 5.1 rating/12 share among adults 18-49 and 15.28 million viewers, according to fast national Nielsen data. That’s the best demo performance for CBS in the 9 p.m. Sunday slot with regular programming since November 2005.

And did we mention it was on opposite the Olympics?

Particularly impressive is the fact that "Boss" nearly doubled its lead-in, the season premiere of "Amazing Race." The latter series actually did quite nicely, notching a 2.8/7 in the demo — up a tad from last February’s winter debut even though the Olympics were on.

"Boss" also grew notably at the 9:30 half-hour, a sign, perhaps, that viewers were calling and emailing and Tweeting each other about the show. ("Hey, Barney: Turn on Channel 3– they got the Hooter girls on!")

One caveat: While the competition was, indeed, Olympian this week, it was also atypical in that ABC dumped an original "Desperate Housewives" in favor of a two-hour "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The latter bombed big time, notching a 1.9/5 from 9-11 p.m., allowing CBS to no doubt pick up some audience.

"Boss" was obviously way down from its big premiere following the Super Bowl, which averaged a 16.3/38 in adults 18-49. But even if it drops another 20 or 30 percent in the coming weeks, CBS will be very happy since it will have launched a much-needed new unscripted success story.

And to think, we had planned on giving CBS a hard time for promoting "Boss" over the weekend as TV’s No. 1 New Show — even though its only airing up until then had been after the Super Bowl, so, duh, of course it was No. 1.

Guess the power of positive thinking works after all.

Meanwhile, we’ll have more on the first three nights of the Vancouver Olympics shortly.