Monday, August 18, 2008

The continuing demassification of mass media (or, Where have all the viewers gone?)

They're popping champagne corks and slapping high-fives over at NBC today, celebrating Nielsen reports that Day Nine of the network's Beijing Olympics overage -- featuring, of course, the amazing triumph of Michael Phelps -- was NBC's most-watched Saturday night prime-time broadcast in 18 years, averaging 31.1 million U.S. viewers.

All of which sounds pretty dang impressive, until you consider: The last time NBC drew so many people to a prime-time Saturday telecast, viewers tuned in to see nothing more phenomenal than Empty Nest. That's right: Back in 1990, a broadcast television network could count on drawing more than 30 million viewers -- 31.4 million, to be precise -- to a routine episode of a no-better-than-average sitcom on a Saturday night. Those were the days, my friend. They thought they'd never end. But...

1 comment:

Toto said...

Wow. Great post. Talk about lending perspective to the modern viewing audience.
And could there be a more inane example of the generic sitcom than "Empty Nest?"