The Super Bowl and the Oscars are considered the two largest nights on the small screen for ratings. That's why ABC pays millions to keep the rights to broadcast the Oscars, while NBC, CBS, and FOX have a convoluted system where the Super Bowl passes from channel to channel every year, with each positioning their hottest show in the post-game slot when it is their turn. This year, NBC wasn't so lucky in the game ratings, but when it came time for the post-game slot, the This Is Us Super Bowl episode ratings were through the roof and then some.
The ratings for football have been down in general over the last couple of years, but no one quite expected the Super Bowl to fall this far in the numbers. The game ratings came in at the lowest point in a decade. According to Deadline, 103.4 million tuned in, a 7 percent drop from the 2017 Super Bowl. The last time it was lower was the 2009 Super Bowl, when only 98.7 million tuned in.
But This Is Us was apparently what viewers were really waiting for. Despite the game being down 7 percent from last year, the post-Super Bowl slot was up compared to FOX's offering, which was the series premiere of 24: Legacy. In fact, according to Entertainment Weekly, This is Us landed a 16.2 in the overnights, which is a jump of 59 percent from last year.
The weepy wrap-up of an extended storyline on This Is Us — coupled with a huge lead-in from Super Bowl LII — boosted the NBC drama to a record audience of 27 million viewers Sunday, though the crowd for the game itself was far from a record. Us more than doubled its previous same-day audience (12.9 million for September's second-season opener).
And that's not counting anyone who decided they were too drunk, too emotional, or just couldn't quite deal with Jack's death at 10:45 p.m. ET on a Sunday night with work in the morning. Those who will watch the show via DVR before this coming Tuesday are still to be counted. Those numbers, called "Live +3" (because it's the "live viewers" number, plus the next three days of viewers added in) won't be out until later in the week, so the viewing numbers could jump quite a bit.
The last time a post-Super Bowl show scored numbers like that was 2012, which was also a year NBC hosted the game. They followed the Super Bowl that year with the premiere of Season 2 of The Voice, which averaged 37.6 million viewers. The last time a TV drama was given the post-Super Bowl slot and pulled in that kind of audience, you have to go back a full decade to when FOX had the game in 2008 and followed it with House.
This week, the follow-up episode will take viewers through the funeral after Jack's passing. The episode is entitled "The Car" and promises to be a flashback-heavy hour.
Here's the synopsis:
The history of the Pearsons as told through the life of the family car.
Though this is the end of Jack Pearson's story in the world of the flashbacks, there are still some parts of his life still left unvisited. (For example, his late brother Nicky, who only Randall knows about.) So, while the answers to the mystery of how Jack died have been answered, Milo Ventimiglia probably isn't going anywhere yet. The show will merely start mixing in these flashbacks with their new flash-forwards, as was revealed at the end of last night's episode.
This Is Us returns to their regular Tuesday night slot at 9 p.m. ET slot on NBC on Feb. 6.