Nielsen Estimates 106.5 Million Viewers for Super Bowl XLIV (aka Beating the Pants Off Elvis)

In a story by David Bauder of the Associated Press, A.C. Nielsen went on record estimating that 106.5 million viewers watched Super Bowl XLIV (see at WashingtonPost.com HERE). That is the most heavily viewed event in TV history, bigger than (according to Wikipedia):
– the final episode of M*A*S*H (105.97 million viewers)
– last year’s Super Bowl (98.7 million viewers)
– the Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (73 million viewers)
– Elvis’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (60 million viewers)

To be fair to the shows of yesteryear, the total US population (and the number of households having TVs) has continued to increase since those days. There are about 305 million people currently living in the US, so about 1/3 of the entire population watched the game.
It is remarkable in our modern splinter group society that we could find something that such a huge group of people could watch together, especially when you could rule so many people out right at the starting gate: infants, toddlers, anyone in solitary confinement, anyone unconscious or too sick to care, anyone at work in a job where you can’t watch TV while you work, almost anyone who was in an airplane at the time, and most people who immigrated from countries where a “football” is something spherical.

I don’t know the full importance of this number, but it does suggest that:
1. TV has not been made irrelevant by the Internet, despite Internet entrepreneurs’ claims
2. People will still show up in giant hordes to watch a TV event en masse, if the product they are watching is enticing enough
3. Ed Sullivan really blew it by making them shoot Elvis from the waist up. The least remarkable half of him got 60 million viewers. Who knows what the full Elvis could have scored?

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