Undercover Boss’ post-Super Bowl debut makes it the most-watched reality premiere ever

Last night, 38.6 million people watched the debut of Undercover Boss following the Super Bowl. That makes it the biggest premiere of a reality show ever,
and the third-best performance for a post-Super Bowl show ever, after Survivor Australia in 2001. (Friends’ 1996 showing is number one, but number three is Survivor All-Stars in 2004.) TV By the Numbers has a chart of all post-Super Bowl show ratings.

Of course, the real question is, how many will tune in next Sunday night for its second episode? To help make sure they do that, CBS will repeat it Friday night at 9 p.m. ET, before the Hooters’ CEO episode airs Sunday following the premiere of The Amazing Race. An hour earlier, at 8, CBS will re-air the Survivor retrospective, if you’d like to re-watch the live blog in real time.

That it is the most-watched reality show debut ever is somewhat exciting and somewhat depressing, considering it’s not the best show ever, though it’s far from the worst. If only Whale Wars or Hoarders or Top Chef Masters could get that distinction.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.