Did Glee score a ratings touchdown after the big game?
Depends how you look at the numbers.
Despite plenty of promotion and that sports-fan-friendly opening performance to “California Gurls,” Glee was down 31 percent from Undercover Boss, which CBS premiered after last year’s game.
Glee was seen by 26.8 million viewers and had an 11.1 adults 18-49 rating. This ranks as the highest-rated Glee episode ever (which you probably figured) and is the top-rated scripted telecast of any TV show in three years (which is rather great). It’s about double the number of the show’s Madonna episode, for instance. Though Glee just barely edged out the previous scripted show to follow the Super Bowl, NBC’s The Office, two years ago. (Read Ken Tucker and Breia Brissey’s recaps of the episode here and here.)
While Super Bowl viewership has been going up to record highs in recent years (see here for the ratings results for last night’s big game), the number of people who stick around afterward has been trending more-or-less down. (Broadcast ratings in general have been declining due to competition from cable). Post-game ratings peaked in 1996 for an episode of NBC’s Friends that drew a stunning 52.9 million, then had its second largest number in modern history in 2001 for the second season premiere of CBS’ Survivor. Fox had the lowest retention in 2005 with an episode of American Dad. Last year, CBS scored a surprisingly strong number for the series premiere of Undercover Boss with 38.7 million. Here’s a chart, showing the Super Bowl and post-game shows using the adults 18-49 rating: