Super Bowl Is No Cinderella Story

Cind_1957I’m getting a little tired of all the media stories this week about how Sunday’s Super Bowl ratings surpassed those of the “M*A*S*H” finale to become the most-watched TV show in American television history. Especially annoying are the headlines saying, simply, that the game was “the most-watched show in history.” Leaving aside the fact that, worldwide, certain World Cup and Euro Cup matches, and certain Olympics events (USA-China in basketball) grab more eyeballs, to say nothing of the Oscars even in bad years. No, what really gripes me (and I’m a sports fan) is that, in terms of scoring the potential American audience, the 2010 Super Bowl doesn’t come close to all kinds of TV broadcasts throughout the 1950s. For example, the March 31, 1957 broadcast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” starring Julie Andrews, pulled in an American audience of 100 million, at a time when the country’s population was about 175 million — around 57 percent. By contrast, the 2010 Super Bowl was watched by an average of 106.5 million, when the country’s population is 305 million — around 35 percent. Yeah, I know there are a lot more distractions now than 50 years ago, but still: as a percentage of potential market, this year’s Super Bowl can’t touch Julie Andrews! Remember that, all you show queens out there, next time some one-dimensional sports fan starts boring you.

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