From the Dark Side
Numbers Are Deceiving
So it’s been over a week now since the Superbowl was played in what was one of the better games in recent memory. In a game that has traditionally been a blowout with the majority of viewers more excited and interested in the newest commercials (LOVED the Snickers-Brady Bunch commercial!), this game actually kept the interest of the majority of Americans for four hours while the commercials disappointed (did anybody really think the tortoise would actually lose in the Mercedes-Benz commercial?!). However, what really got everybody talking on Monday morning was the “impressive” 114 million viewers who tuned in for the game. Supposedly this was the most watched TV show in U.S. history. That’s 35% of the entire population watching Pete Carroll make the worst call in the history of sports. Impressive.
This seemed like a huge deal last week. The Superbowl was the greatest sporting event, wait, TV event…ever. I mean, come on, 114 million people watched it! But what about the rest of the world? There’s another six or seven billion people out there! How many people outside of the great US of A actually care about American football?
When I was young, I remember watching M.A.S.H. I was probably too young to really understand the comedic genius of that show but at least I was introduced to Hot Lips Houlihan and my first TV crush. The M.A.S.H. finale in 1983 drew 125 million viewers across the globe. I guess since these were not all in the U.S. it doesn’t rank as the most watched show in American history. But 125 million is 125 million. The Superbowl was having a hard time competing with Hawkeye, Col. Potter, Hunnicutt and Klinger. But, my glory days consisted of religiously watching Cheers, Seinfeld, and Johnny Carson. In 1993, the Cheers finale pulled in 93.5 million viewers in the U.S. Not bad. Right when I started dreaming of my first Ferrari and moving to Maui with an English butler, Magnum drew over 50 million viewers in 1988. All respectable numbers but nothing compares to the big global TV events.
I also wasn’t around in 1969 to witness the first moonwalk but 530 million people, or 14% of the world’s population at the time, watched. I was around in 2011 for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, but was not one of the 161 million people to watch those vows. But seriously, those events are all peanuts. Getting back to what people really love to watch, sports, a paltry 150 million watch the 100 meter sprint final in the Olympics. Each and every year, 175 million watch the UEFA Champions League soccer final and 300 million people watch the UEFA Euro Final. But the clear leaders in global viewership are the soccer and cricket world cups. Over 700 million people watch these events. That would be the equivalent of every single person in the United States and half of Europe stopping everything for two hours and watching the game. And there aren’t even commercials during soccer games! But the true granddaddy of them all, the #1 most watched television event in the history of the world is…..wait for it…the 2011 cricket world cup semi-final between Pakistan and India. That game drew over 1 BILLION viewers! Granted, that was probably every single Indian and Pakistani glued to their television, but a billion viewers is still pretty impressive. The Superbowl’s 114 million seems a little less impressive.
So next time you hear about the Daytona 500 drawing 16 million viewers and celebrating, remember that the Brazilian Grand Prix averages over 85 million viewers. Numbers can be a little deceiving. Don’t believe me? The 2015 Cricket World Cup begins on Friday! Will you be watching?