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September 1, 2014

'Undercover Boss' Lands Coveted Post-Super Bowl Slot

by Scott Harris, posted Dec 21st 2009 11:15AM
'House.' 'Survivor.' Some guy that works at Hooters. What do these three things have in common? Well, after February 7, they will all share the distinction of having followed the Super Bowl on prime time television.

Yes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS, which will be airing this year's Super Bowl, has decided to buck conventional thinking by scheduling the premiere of their new reality series 'Undercover Boss' in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot. 'Boss,' which takes executives from large corporations such as Hooters, 7-Eleven and White Castle and puts them into entry level positions at their own companies to see how their decisions effect the common man, will open with Waste Management COO Larry O'Donnell cleaning porta-potties.'House.' 'Survivor.' Some guy that works at Hooters. What do these three things have in common? Well, after February 7, they will all share the distinction of having followed the Super Bowl on prime time television.

Yes, according to The Hollywood Reporter, CBS, which will be airing this year's Super Bowl, has decided to buck conventional thinking by scheduling the premiere of their new reality series 'Undercover Boss' in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot. 'Boss,' which takes executives from large corporations such as Hooters, 7-Eleven and White Castle and puts them into entry level positions at their own companies to see how their decisions effect the common man, will open with Waste Management COO Larry O'Donnell cleaning porta-potties.

Traditionally, of course, the Super Bowl is the most watched event of the year. The 2009 edition, for instance, which featured the underdog Arizona Cardinals against the perennial powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers, drew an overwhelming 64 share, with over 48 million viewers giving the NFL championship game an impressive 42.0 rating.

Naturally, networks normally take advantage of those numbers by scheduling their biggest hits or most buzzed about shows in the slot immediately following the Super Bowl, as the bump frequently results in super-sized ratings. Last year, for instance, NBC followed with 'The Office,' which, with 22 million viewers, grabbed its biggest viewership ever gave the network it's best showing in the coveted 18-49 demographic in nearly five years.

The decision by CBS to pass over perennial performers like 'Survivor,' which has drawn strong numbers in the post-Super Bowl slot twice before, in favor of the unknown 'Undercover Boss' is, therefore, a surprising and risky choice. While this strategy has worked in the past for some networks (Fox debuted 'American Dad' after the Super Bowl back in 2005, though they hedged their bets by pairing it with fan favorite 'The Simpsons') it has also backfired (see: ABC's 1995 effort 'Extreme'). And if a show can't succeed with a bump from the Super Bowl, chances are it won't succeed at all, meaning this could be a make of break moment for 'Undercover Boss.'

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler, however, doesn't seem concerned, citing the positive reaction 'Boss' received when it was previewed for the media last May. "'Boss' played great at Carnegie Hall, and every person watching the Super Bowl can enjoy this program; it's great family entertainment," she said. "The journey of watching a chief executive walk a mile in their employees' shoes is always very revealing, often humorous and in some cases very inspiring."

For her sake, she better hope so. Otherwise, if this gamble backfires, the next executive filling an entry level position may be her.

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