CBS to Air a Special Live Episode of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ After the Super Bowl
Stephen Colbert is about to get a Super Bowl bump.
CBS is set to announce today that a live edition of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert will air immediately following Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, Feb. 7.
Depending on when the big game ends, The Late Show will likely air at 10 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT. This marks the first time a late night talk show aired behind the Super Bowl–and the first time that a non-primetime show aired after the game since 1976 (when CBS aired the Phoenix Open golf tournament immediately after).
CBS will also air a special edition of The Late Late Show with James Corden after affiliates air their late local news.
“It’s been a very big year in late night at CBS,” says 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 executives see the Colbert choice as the opportunity to give him a second launch, now that the show has had several months to get into a groove. Execs there also like the statement this decision says about their commitment to Colbert and Corden as their new faces of late night.
Besides Colbert, other contenders for the post-Super Bowl slot included Supergirl, but that would have taken away an episode from the show’s Monday night run. Because Supergirl airs the night after the Super Bowl, it will still be heavily promoted during the game. Limitless and several comedies were also considered for the slot, but the Colbert idea gained steam.
CBS has a history of unconventional Super Bowl lead-outs. In 2010, the network aired the unscripted series Undercover Boss after the game, attracting 39 million viewers.
Networks, including CBS, have used the Super Bowl in the past to help bolster late night shows — but always after the late local news. In 2003, ABC even aired the premiere episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live the same night as Super Bowl XXXVII. (Alias aired immediately after the game that night.)
But mostly, networks have stuck with scripted series after the Super Bowl. Last year, NBC averaged 25.7 million viewers for The Blacklist.
In 2014, Fox aired two shows: New Girl (26.3 million) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which, because there is plenty of tune-out in the hour that follows the Super Bowl, went down to 15.1 million). The last time CBS aired the Super Bowl, in 2013, it aired Elementary. That show didn’t start until 11:11 p.m. ET, the latest ever for any post-Super Bowl telecast, and as a result averaged just 20.8 million viewers.
CBS aired the second-most watched Super Bowl lead-out in 2001 with the second cycle premiere of the then-white hot Survivor, which averaged 45.4 million viewers.
The Super Bowl is a good opportunity to introduce viewers who haven’t yet sampled The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. And given that Colbert is a franchise that CBS hopes to cultivate for years to come, the move makes sense. The show is currently averaging 3.3 million viewers, which means the post-Super Bowl telecast will easily dwarf that.
The post-late news slot for The Late Late Show with James Corden is also a strong platform for the show, which is averaging 1.3 million viewers. Corden’s on-screen bits have become pop culture viral sensations since his premiere on March 23.
Super Bowl 50, which takes place from Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, starts at 6 p.m. ET on Feb. 7.