Why CBS Picked The World’s Best to Air After the Super Bowl

The network says its in-game promos will hold their own with Big Game ads

A huge audience will watch The World's Best on Sunday, but CBS will need to get them to return for episode two. CBS
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When CBS was deciding which show would air after Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, the network considered every program it airs, including Young Sheldon and its freshman hits like FBI and God Friended Me.

Ultimately, the network settled on The World’s Best, its new reality competition series hosted by James Corden and featuring Drew Barrymore, Faith Hill and RuPaul Charles, who judge a variety of global acts. In addition to receiving scores from the celebrity trio, contestants are also judged by the “Wall of the World,” representing 38 different countries.

While only a fraction of the Super Bowl’s 100 million-plus audience will stick around for the show, that telecast’s numbers will still outperform almost every other entertainment show this year. Last year’s post-Super Bowl program, NBC’s This Is Us, averaged 27.0 million viewers, making in the most-viewed post-Super Bowl telecast in six years since NBC aired The Voice in 2012.

As CBS thought about this year’s choice, “we considered everything,” said CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl. “More or less every show on our schedule, somebody threw it out there at one point. The questions we really ask ourselves are, what can benefit the most from this plum slot? What can we really take advantage of?”

The network also looked at its past post-Super Bowl choices. “Undercover Boss got off to a great start, and did a great number. Survivor helped build a long-term franchise,” said Kahl. “And then at that point, we’d had the luxury of seeing The World’s Best, and knowing what we have, and feeling really good about it.”

Another important factor for CBS was selecting a show whose in-game promos could stand out amidst all the splashy Super Bowl ads. “What can you promote in the game amongst all these great commercials, that people will sit up in their chair and go, ‘I need to see that?’ And this show fit the bill,” said Kahl. (For the latest news on Super Bowl LIII ads, check out Adweek’s Super Bowl Ad Tracker.)

While getting eyeballs after the Super Bowl is easy, the bigger challenge will be convincing viewers to return for The World’s Best’s second episode on Wednesday. “First and foremost, you hope you give them a good experience, and they come back and say, ‘I want to see more of that.’ And we’re confident we have that,” said Kahl. “We have some amazing talent, and the world judges are an awesome hook. And it sounds kind of trite, but we really think we have some of the best acts in the world.”

The World’s Best producers said at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour on Wednesday that the series isn’t just another competition show like America’s Got Talent, The Voice or American Idol. And executive producer Mike Darnell has big plans for his show: “We’re crossing our fingers that this is going to be a franchise for many years to come on CBS.”

Super Bowl promo plans

In addition to convincing Super Bowl viewers to stick around for The World’s Best, CBS will be running promos throughout the game for its other shows.

“Much like [the question of] what show goes after the game and what can benefit the most, we ask the same thing about promos,” said Kahl. “What shows can we take up to the next level? A lot of times, that means some of the newer shows—that are still in growth mode—that hopefully you’ll get some fresh eyeballs on. But we try to give everybody a little bit of love.”

George Schweitzer, president of CBS Marketing Group, said the network will also spotlight The Grammys, which air the following week. “But the whole network is represented: news, sports, entertainment. It’s a big day for us,” said Schweitzer. It’s also likely that programs from CBS’ sister networks, including CBS All Access and Showtime, will also be featured.

All of the CBS promos airing during the Super Bowl will be customized for the game. “There aren’t any off-the-shelf, generic promos for the shows,” said Kahl. “We realize that we want to raise our game just like advertisers raise their game for the Super Bowl. We don’t want our stuff looking second class; we want to look as good as the great commercials.”

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl LIII Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 3 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.