Posted in:

What is the Ratings Outlook for the Patriots-Rams Super Bowl and Lead-Out Program ‘The World’s Best’ on CBS?

Several media professionals provide their takes on how many will tune in to these two telecasts.

Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams takes place in Atlanta, Ga. on Sunday, Feb. 3 on CBS. This is the Patriots’ third consecutive Big Game appearance; their ninth in 17 years — all of them with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady’s rookie season in 2001 culminated in a Super Bowl victory against the Rams, although at that time, the Rams hailed from St. Louis. Having relocated back to Los Angeles in 2016, the Rams have exhibited a high-octane offense over the past two seasons with young quarterback Jared Goff and 33-year-old head coach Sean McVay. This past season, the Los Angeles Rams paired their potent scoring with a quality defense under the tutelage of legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

New England appeared in the most watched telecast in TV history to-date in 2015 for Super Bowl XLIX, with an average of 114.4 million viewers tuning in to their win over the Seattle Seahawks on NBC. Their two most recent Super Bowl appearances, though, have subsequently decreased since that viewer figure four years ago: 111.32 million for their overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, and 103.47 million (a nine-year low for The Big Game) for their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

Could the nation be worn out by the utter dominance of the Patriots in the past near two decades? Is the recent Super Bowl decline attributable to the Patriots’ two East Coast opponents, both Falcons and Eagles with lesser national interest? Will the current trends of TV watching, which has increasingly shifted towards streaming content especially by younger audiences, affect the live viewing number for this Super Bowl as well as future Super Bowls?

Or, will this year’s uptick in NFL viewership from last year result in a similar increase here? Two weeks ago, the Patriots’ overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs on CBS drew a whopping 54.16 million viewers on average that evening — the second largest AFC Championship Game audience on record.

I inquired with professionals in the media industry to provide their ratings prognostications for the upcoming World Series. Here are their takes (as for me, I’m predicting 105 million. As I had mentioned in The Athletic, Super Bowl LIII will continue the increased ratings from last year’s playoffs but fatigue from yet another appearance by the Patriots — an all-time great franchise but unlikable outside of New England — will stifle the number to a minimal rise from the 103.4 million of last year.):

Mark Cuban, “Shark Tank” entrepreneur/Dallas Mavericks owner
99.7 million because of the decline in TV households. I think out-of-home viewing will explode as streamers go outside to watch.

Maury Brown, Forbes
107 million. Viewership will be up from 2018’s Super Bowl that came on the heels of a lackluster season for ratings, but will be down from other prior years due to over-saturation of the Patriots.

Scott Nolte, KUYY deejay/sports announcer
Super Bowl – 101 million.  People are tired of the Patriots and L.A. doesn’t care about the Rams

Jason Jacobs, KUOO deejay/sports announcer
My gut feeling is just shy of 100 million viewers, but a close game could easily push it ahead of last year. I think the combination of few Rams fans, the Patriots seemingly always being in the big game, and bland halftime entertainment could be a negative for CBS. 
Prediction: 99.4 million

Terence Henderson, T Dog Media
With the NFL ratings on a upswing this year – not to mention another appearance from Tom Brady and the Patriots, I predict 107 million for Super Bowl LIII.

Steven Tito, Encompass Digital Media
For the Super Bowl, I’m going to give it a 113.5 million viewership. CBS loves the Patriots and this is the first Rams appearance since 2002.

Anthony Crupi, AdAge
I’ve been crunching the numbers over the last 20 NFL seasons and it is difficult to establish any correlation between a) the average deliveries for all national regular-season TV windows, b) playoff ratings and c) the final Super Bowl outcome. As you know, it wasn’t until Super Bowl XLIV that football finally smashed the record turnout for a single U.S. broadcast originally set by the series finale of M*A*S*H back in 1983 (106M viewers). Since that Saints-Colts game, the NFL title tilt hasn’t fallen shy of the 100M viewer mark—although last year’s Eagles-Pats showdown flirted with such a failure by scaring up “only” 103.4M viewers. As much as the regular-season ratings were up 5% and the first two rounds of the playoffs improved by another 10%, I think Brady fatigue and the gradual drift of younger fans toward under-measured streams/devices will conspire to keep the Rams-Pats showdown from setting any new records. Call it 108.9 million viewers and a 46.8 household rating—which would make LIII the seventh-biggest draw in NFL history.

Dan Serafin, News 12 The Bronx/Brooklyn sports anchor
Everyone is invested somehow some way in the Patriots.. love them or love to hate them… or just hate them… we’ll watch. I think we see a top 5 Super Bowl audience. I’ll say 110-plus million viewers.

Tony Maglio, The Wrap
109.3 million viewers. There is definitely Patriots fatigue, but Boston is still a big market. Los Angeles is a huge market where people do not care about football, but they sure care about events. Ultimately, I’m banking on a good, competitive, high-scoring game that has added intrigue from a pair of overtime conference championship games — but I’m not plunking my money down on a new record.

Austin Karp, SportsBusiness Daily assistant managing editor
Super Bowl prediction: 106.5 million viewers. Interest will be up from last year, but I don’t see any “wow” factor this year that will drive the audience back to the area of 110 million viewers. We’ve got the Patriots again, and a Rams team whose biggest name brand may be their young head coach.

Neil Best, Newsday
99.9 million. Millennials don’t know or care what television is. I can’t see how this number does not continue to sink. Plus we’re tired of the Patriots.

Lou D’Ermilio, LOUD Communications/XFL, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports media relations
My prediction is that the game will return to the pre-2018 +110 million ballpark. NFL audience figures have bounced back this season, the match-up has compelling story lines and LA will tune-in for the Rams, adding a few extra eyeballs.  113.1 million.

Bill Brioux, Brioux.TV
109 million. NFL has bounced back so the total will go up this year — just not to an all time high due to a) cord cutting b) The Patriots –again??

Eric Deggans, NPR
102 million for the game. We’ve seen viewership steadily decline for the game every year, and New England has been one of the teams almost every year since 2015. I suspect the Super Bowl is falling prey to media trends beyond their control or impact.

Patrick Crakes, Crakes Media Consulting, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports Senior Vice President Programming in Research & Content Strategy
Super Bowl LIII = 106.2 million viewers on CBS (+2.7%)
Streaming = 2.35 million (+16.3%)
Out of Home = 12.4 million (+1%)
Spanish Language on ESPN Deportes = 570K (+5%)
Total Super Bowl (Linear, Streaming, OOH & Spanish) = 121.4 million (+2.8%)
NOTE: All Comps are vs. last year.

While the Super Bowl is notoriously not connected to regular season and playoff ratings trends, this year we’ll see the season long NFL viewing rebound flow through to the big game helped by the Los Angeles market showing up (just a little) and the presence of the Patriots – America’s most popular team to hate! However, the gains aren’t enough to push linear viewing back above 110 million.
Streaming will continue to post strong growth but will remain a small part of the total Super Bowl viewing picture (approx. 3M); Out of Home will confirm its role as Super Bowl viewing rocket fuel by again adding 12M+ viewers to the game total, a bit more than last year thanks to the Pacific Time Zone friendly game window in Southern California making it easy to head out and watch in restaurants and bars; and Spanish language viewing will grow some thanks to the Rams’ Southern California fan base although it will remain statistically very small in comparison to the other viewing components.

Dave Bauder, Associated Press
I’ll say 104.5 [million] for Super Bowl. It’s been trending down lately, but playoff ratings this season have bumped up slightly.

As for its lead-out show, there’s much more uncertainty for the prospects of CBS’s new talent competition “The World’s Best”. Although Super Bowl telecasts have risen to mostly historic viewer highs since 2012, its lead-out programs on either Fox, NBC or CBS have not surpassed the 27-million viewer mark within that same time frame (last year’s “This Is Us” came closest with 26.99 million).

Non-scripted fare has historically done well after the Super Bowl, especially by the CBS hit reality competition “Survivor”: its second season, the Australian Outback in 2001 (45.4 million) and its eighth season, All-Stars in 2004 (33.5 million). “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett also hit it big with the second season of “The Voice” for NBC in 2012 (37.6 million). And, CBS launched “Undercover Boss” in 2010 to an impressive 38.7 million viewers.

Burnett and CBS will try to spark post-Super Bowl ratings magic once again (and this time, alongside former Fox network reality programming head Mike Darnell, the person who had brought the “American Idol” franchise to our airwaves in 2002) with “The World’s Best”. But will it?

I inquired with some of the same media professionals mentioned above for their “World’s Best” ratings guesses. Here are their takes (I’m predicting 23.5 million viewers. Had this show debuted a decade ago, I’d have guessed a much higher figure. The reality TV genre is way past its popularity peak and this show’s stark similarity to NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” may be contributing factors to its limited ratings potential.):

Scott Nolte, KUYY deejay/sports announcer
Post Super Bowl – 22 Million.  People like talent shows and also seem to like James Corden.

Jason Jacobs, KUOO deejay/sports announcer
Guessing 19 million there. With a hard fall the Wednesday after.

Terence Henderson, T Dog Media
CBS should also receive some significant sampling for “World’s Best”, with 25 million viewers.

Jon Lewis, Sports Media Watch
It’ll come in higher than Colbert in 2016, but I would still expect something on the lower end. I’ll say 21.3 million.

Tony Maglio, The Wrap
“World’s Best” has a broad, all-ages appeal, which helps here — but it really just looks like a less-interesting “Got Talent” show. This is such a generic format that the retention will probably be even more directly tied to the quality of its lead-in game. I may be going low here with 24.1 million viewers but it’s been a while for CBS to really score immediately after the Big Game.

Anthony Crupi, AdAge
As for the post-game broadcast, while unscripted/reality premieres have proven to be big draws once the confetti snow angels have been raked up off the turf, The World’s Best may be the single most unlikely candidate for a Lombardi lead-out this side of that Good Life/John Larroquette Show combo NBC aired in the wake of Super Bowl XXVIII. Who, exactly, asked for this show? And yes, the only broadcast series that still put up decent numbers in 2019 are competition curiosities such as The Masked Singer and The Titan Games, but the Venn diagram of football junkies who are going to be at all interested in the mischief whipped up by James Corden, Drew Barrymore, RuPaul, Faith Hill and Li’l Mike Darnell looks like a toppled snowman. And yes, perhaps as many as 45% of the Super Bowl audience isn’t at all interested in football and are only watching socially/to see the ads/whatever, but for those of us with skin in the game, the prospect of being confronted with this caterwauling nightmare after dropping $30,000 on the goddamn Rams is almost literally impossible to imagine. So, I don’t know, maybe 19.8 million viewers?

Austin Karp, SportsBusiness Daily assistant managing editor
Post-game audience prediction for “The World’s Best”: 20 million viewers for an unknown game show. Not sure viewers were looking for another one of these shows, but here we go.

Bill Brioux, Brioux.TV
World’s Best: 13 million. Yawn.

Neil Best, Newsday
21.0 million. I am biased in favor of this show because of its name, but again, I don’t think millennials know or care what television is, and the premise is a little strange.

Eric Deggans, NPR
20 million for the after show. I’m guessing James Corden’s new show will post similar numbers to Colbert from 2016.

Lou D’Ermilio, LOUD Communications/XFL, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports media relations
World’s Best – 22.2 million. This is Us already had a following last year when it aired post SB; World’s Best obviously doesn’t, thus the lower figure.

Patrick Crakes, Crakes Media Consulting, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports Senior Vice President Programming in Research & Content Strategy
“World’s Best” = 19.9 million viewers on CBS (-26% vs. “This is Us” [after last year’s Super Bowl])
“World’s Best” will draft below average as asking folks to engage with a new game show post Super Bowl isn’t the same as airing a special episode of a popular program.

Dave Bauder, Associated Press
I’ll go with 20 million for “World’s Best.” I don’t think they’ll have a huge audience for a new show.

Rich Greenfield, BTIG Research
20 million. That new CBS show looks horrid.