In an unprecedented move for a broadcast network, CBS has unveiled plans to air a live installment of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” leading out from Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016. The network says it will be the first time a late-night show airs in the slot immediately following the Super Bowl.
CBS will also air a special episode of “The Late Late Show with James Corden” that night, following the late local news.
In the announcement, Glenn Geller, president of CBS Entertainment, said: “It’s been a very big year in late-night at CBS. We’re extremely proud of our two new late-night franchises, and we’re thrilled to give Stephen and James this Super Bowl Sunday showcase.”
ABC did link the Super Bowl to late-night programming back in 2003, when the network launched “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Super Bowl Sunday. But “Kimmel” followed an episode of “Alias” that night.
“The Super Bowl all but guarantees a huge ratings bump for the show airing after it, but the last few prime-time shows that got the showcase didn’t see much lasting effect,” TVbytheNumbers.com notes. “In 2015 ‘The Blacklist’ scored an 8.4 same-day rating for NBC after the game but fell to 2.4 — below its last regular episode — in its Thursday-night debut. In 2014, ‘New Girl’ (11.4) and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (6.9) each returned to their normal range (1.6 and 1.4) with their next telecasts. Ditto for ‘Elementary’ in 2013: 7.8 after the game, 2.2 in its next regular airing.”
The live “Colbert” will be a one-hour program.
The New York Times notes: “The post-Super Bowl slot is prime real estate that network executives have traditionally given to shows that can guarantee a strong performance, or, in more recent years, for a show they have high hopes for and want to expose to an enormous audience, which is traditionally north of 20 million viewers.”
Colbert took over David Letterman’s CBS slot in September and has been well-reviewed but has trailed NBC’s “Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” in the ratings. “So far this season, Jimmy Fallon is averaging 3.8 million viewers a night, compared to Mr. Colbert’s 3.3 million and Jimmy Kimmel’s 2.5 million viewers,” The Times notes.