FOX is using the post-Super Bowl slot Sunday night to launch its new series “24: Legacy.” On the surface, that seems like a perfectly sound idea — the game will, after all, deliver a massive audience into the show’s premiere.

But the history of series debuts after the Super Bowl is surprisingly spotty. There’s a reason networks have rarely used the game to launch new series in the past 20 years — and that reason is the decade or so before that.

“24: Legacy” will be the first show to have its series premiere after the Super Bowl since “Undercover Boss” on CBS in 2010. FOX is responsible for the previous two series debuts after the game: “American Dad” in 2005 and “Family Guy” in 1999 — although both didn’t begin their regular runs as series until a few months after their Super Bowl episodes.

All three shows are still on the air, and “Undercover Boss” is one of the few post-Super Bowl shows in recent years to enjoy any lasting ratings effect from the post-game exposure.

FOX is certainly hoping for that kind of beginning for “24: Legacy,” which also has the advantage of name recognition. “Legacy” has new characters, but the show’s format and story are very much in keeping with the original “24.”

If “24: Legacy” can carry some ratings momentum beyond Sunday, and if it does well enough to return for a second season, it will actually be an outlier among post-Super Bowl series premieres. Starting in 1984, networks aired a series premiere in 10 of the next 11 years. Only four of those shows lasted more than a single season (and one was the first half of a two-part movie).

At least the notion of launching a new show suggests some thought about what a big audience the Super Bowl brings to its lead-out — something that was absent in the game’s early years. Three of the first five Super Bowls were followed by episodes of “Lassie,” which was already in 13th year when Super Bowl I was played. Installments of “60 Minutes” followed three of the first 16 Super Bowls — which didn’t permanently become a primetime game until 1985 — and twice, coverage of a golf tournament came after.

A short-lived college comedy called “Brothers and Sisters” was the first series premiere to air after the game, kicking off a pretty ignominious run. Take at look at this murderers’ row of shows, and notice how much longer-running shows like the ones above, “The Wonder Years” and “Homicide” stand out:

Year Show Network Post-Super Bowl viewers (millions) Fate
1979 Brothers and Sisters NBC 31.72 Canceled after 12 episodes
1984 Airwolf CBS 27.87 4 seasons (3 on CBS, 1 on USA), 80 episodes
1985 MacGruder and Loud ABC n/a Canceled after 14 episodes
1986 The Last Precinct NBC 39.73 Returned in April 1986, canceled after 8 episodes
1987 Hard Copy* CBS n/a Canceled after 5 episodes
1988 The Wonder Years ABC 28.98 6 seasons, 115 episodes
1989 Brotherhood of the Rose part 1 NBC n/a 2-part movie was highest-rated TV movie of 1988-89
1990 Grand Slam CBS 30.77 Canceled after 6 episodes
1991 Davis Rules ABC 26.7 2 seasons (1 on ABC, 1 on CBS), 29 episodes
1993 Homicide: Life on the Street NBC 28.12 7 seasons, 122 episodes
1994 The Good Life NBC 23.01 Canceled after 13 episodes
1995 Extreme ABC 22.59 Canceled after 7 episodes
1999 Family Guy FOX 22.01 Currently in Season 14
2005 American Dad** FOX 15.1 Currently in Season 13
2010 Undercover Boss CBS 38.65 Currently in Season 8

*This “Hard Copy” was a drama about newspaper reporters. The syndicated tabloid show of the same name debuted in 1989.
**”American Dad” aired following a new “Simpsons” episode.

The string of series premieres after the Super Bowl was broken with “Friends” in 1996. It remains the most-watched post-game episode of all with nearly 53 million viewers, and ever since networks have gone largely with established shows in the post-game slot.

We’ll know Monday how the “24: Legacy” premiere fares. Whether it’s more “Wonder Years” or “Grand Slam” will take a little longer to figure out.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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