Roughly after its first decade-determined NFL championship — and increasingly television audiences — the Super Bowl became the last of network television’s lead. The game, which for most of its existence was the most-watched show of the year, helped launch several feature-length series and provided highlights for successful shows.
However, that won’t happen this year. NBC will switch from the Super Bowl to cover the Winter Olympics on Sunday – marking the first time in 30 years that something other than entertainment has followed the game.
The programming move stemmed in part from NBCUniversal’s desire to have both the Olympics and the Super Bowl aired (and its streaming service, Peacock) in the same month — so much so that in 2019, NBC did swap places with CBS in three-network Super Bowl spins. NBC last aired in 2018 (another Winter Olympics year) and will be back on air in 2021 after CBS and Fox air the Super Bowl in 2019 and ’20. Instead, NBC swapped places with CBS to double with the Olympics.
The extension of the NFL season – the league has added its 17th regular game this year – also puts the Super Bowl right in the middle of the Olympics. NBC is scheduled to broadcast the Olympics during daylight hours on Sunday for the five-hour Super Bowl, but after the game and the trophy presentation, the network will receive live news from Beijing during the day. an hour or so, let the affiliates update the local news and then provide an additional 90 minutes of late-night Olympic events.
(It’s possible NBC adopted this strategy even as the NFL struggled with a 16-game season, which would put the Super Bowl on February 6 — three days before the Olympics.)
Sunday will be the first time since 1992 that an entertainment program does not follow the Super Bowl. After Super Bowl XXVI that year, CBS aired an abbreviated version of 60 minutes included an interview with then-presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton – a segment that appeared together at the last minute and in which the pair addressed allegations that he had an extramarital affair .
Interview and a 48 hours the rest of the evening drew an average of 24.8 million viewers for CBS. A year later, NBC came out Murder: Life on the Streetstarted operating for 29 years, during which an entertainment program had an introductory position.
Following the Super Bowl with another sports TV show hasn’t happened in 46 years. In its first decade, the Super Bowl was an afternoon game, starting no later than 4:15 p.m. ET. Twice in that time—in 1971 on NBC and in 1976 on CBS—the networks have moved from game to golf tournament coverage, filling the period from late game to prime time. The game switched to prime time in 1977, and all but three Super Bowl games since then have been followed by entertainment. The three exceptions are all versions of 60 minutesin 1980, 1982 and 1992.
NBC is obligated to show the Olympics in prime time, which was undoubtedly the biggest driving force behind the decision to schedule it. But it’s unlikely even if the network has given an episode, such as, Chicago Fire or This is us after the game that will have a lot of lasting effects on ratings.
It’s been a decade since any post-Super Bowl show has had any steady ratings momentum since it aired after the game. When the second part of Voice Released in 2012, the series drew a high of 37.6 million and continued to lead the season one average of 18-49 adults for eight weeks. Since then, however, every show to get in position returned to normal soon after, and two out of three series debuted (24: Legacy in 2017 and Best in the world in 2019) were canceled after their first season.
Whether a large audience will gather after the football to watch skating and ice dancing remains to be seen. But even if people continue to watch Sunday, it is unlikely to create a halo effect for the rest of the Olympics.