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Super Bowl XLIV telecast is the most watched U.S. TV episode of all time, with 106.5-million viewers

8

February

SuperBowlXLIV A record 106.5-million people watched Sunday's Super Bowl telecast Sunday, making it the most-watched program in U.S. television history, according to the Associated Press quoting The Nielsen Company.

That total beats the finale of the popular TV sitcom M*A*S*H, which drew 105.9-million viewers back in 1983, when there were fewer TV sets, but also many fewer channels to watch. Media experts predicted a big ratings number for the game, given that the NFL has seen a a double-digit growth in viewers this year, anyway.

Locally, the game drew 46.6 percent of households with TVs, or nearly 1.4-million people age 18 or older, according to St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.

But the record-setting number seems an amazing achievement at a time when competition with cable, mobile and online media has brought double digit declines in viewership each year elsewhere in network television.

The lessons for the industry are obvious: Sports -- and particularly professional football -- remains one of the last entities which can draw the masses to TV screens the way we once gathered for popular sitcoms and drama series.

"It just reaffirms the the NFL is the biggest entertainment property in the United States," said Neil Pilson, a sports media consultant and former president of CBS Sports. "There's only one Super Bowl, only one Master's Tournament, only one World Series. In an era of ever-increasing options (for viewers). the major sports properties stand out like beacons -- they're not going away."

Which only leaves me with a couple questions: Given that some ads this year went for $3-million, how much will the networks charge for NEXT year's Super Bowl ads?

And when M*A*S*H went off the air, some reports claimed Manhattan experienced water shortages during the commercials breaks. Wonder what happened this year?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:05pm]

    

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