The “Late Show” telecast marks the first time one of the Big Three networks’ late-night variety series has aired after the Super Bowl, which is typically the highest-rated telecast of the year. Colbert took over the “Late Show” reins in September following David Letterman’s sign-off in May. Corden moved into the “Late Late Show” slot in March following Craig Ferguson’s exit in December.
“It’s been a very big year in late night at CBS,” said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. “We’re extremely proud of our two new late night franchises, and we’re thrilled to give Stephen and James this big Super Bowl Sunday showcase.”
CBS’ late-night fortunes have improved in the Colbert-Corden era as both shows are drawing a younger audience than their predecessors. But the post-Super Bowl pedestal will undoubtedly expose both to viewers who would not otherwise sample the CBS late-night duo. NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” has maintained a comfortable lead in the 11:35 p.m. slot over “Late Show” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
ABC has used its annual Academy Awards telecast to put a spotlight on Kimmel with a special post-Oscars Sunday telecast.
The most-watched post-Super Bowl telecast of the past 10 years was CBS’ premiere of “Undercover Boss,” which averaged 38.7 million viewers in 2010, according to Nielsen.
The lowest-rated of the past 10 years was CBS’ special edition of drama series “Elementary,” which drew 20.9 million viewers in 2013. The biggest post-Bowl telecast of the past 25 years remains NBC’s special episode of “Friends,” which played to 52.9 million viewers in 1996.