10 Fun Facts About Post-Super Bowl TV Programming

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There's a great chance you'll be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday—attending a Super Bowl party (and suffering the requisite nachos hangover) could be considered an unofficial national pastime. There's also a good chance that you'll stick around for the lead-out program—which, this year, is Glee. Both the song-and-dance series and FOX have a lot in their favor going into Sunday night—Glee is in the middle of its much-talked-about second season, and this year's Super Bowl is expected to take the crown for "most watched telecast of all time." But the post-game TV programming wasn't always such a high-profile event. Here are some fun facts about the history of this precious once-a-year timeslot.

1. From 1967 to 1984, only CBS and NBC ever aired the Super Bowl, trading off each year. ABC entered the rotation in 1985, and FOX followed suit in 1997.

2. Until 1995, what aired in the lead-out spot varied wildly. Networks tried everything from cheesy TV movies (NBC’s Brotherhood of the Rose, in 1989) to dud pilots (ABC’s Davis Rules, in 1991) to long-running golf tournaments (Bing Crosby Pro-Am, a.k.a. AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, in 1971) to news magazines (60 Minutes, which CBS aired multiple times after the game) to old favorites like Lassie (in 1967) and All in the Family in (1978).

3. On occasion, the lead-out slot has launched huge hits—including The Wonder Years (which premiered in 1988) and Homicide: Life on the Street (which premiered in 1993).

4. The New Perry Mason is the only show to ever air its series finale after the Super Bowl (in 1974). Though it only ran for one season, anyway.

5. It wasn't until the mid-'90s that networks began airing prestige programming and awarding the timeslot to one of their signature shows. NBC was the first network to do so, when it aired Friends’ “The One After the Super Bowl” in 1995—and 53 million people watched. That number still hasn’t been topped.

6. 2001's second-season premiere of Survivor is in second place, ratings-wise, at 45 million viewers. Last year's pilot of Undercover Boss—the only not-yet-established show to air since 1995—is in third, with nearly 39 million viewers.

7. FOX has twice used the spot to build up what is now its two-hour "Animation Domination" block, by leading out with The Simpsons and then debuting a new animated show—in 1999, with Family Guy, and in 2005, with American Dad!.

8. Friends, Alias, Criminal Minds, and Grey’s Anatomy were all in their second seasons when they nabbed the coveted spot.

9. Friends, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Simpsons, and Criminal Minds have all crafted football- or Super Bowl-themed episodes for the occasion, just as Glee is doing this year.

10. Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Alias, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, House, and The Office nearly doubled their regular viewership for the post-Super Bowl episode—and The X-Files nearly tripled it.

Will you be tuning into Glee after the game this weekend? And if so, are you specifically looking forward to seeing Artie sing "Thriller," or do you usually watch the Super Bowl lead-out simply because the TV is already on?

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