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...


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?"