Monday, May 20, 2019

It all ended with a medium size bang

Network television ratings continue to plummet. A glaring example was the audience for the final BIG BANG THEORY. They drew 18 million viewers and for that CBS was turning cartwheels. I’m sorry. That’s a low number. You could argue there are way more options today, yada yada, but this is a show that has been on the air for twelve years. And is seen in syndication on numerous stations and is available for streaming. Over twelve years it should have accumulated enough fans that for its grand finale it received eye-popping numbers.

But then that speaks to network numbers in general. When only ten million viewers are watching a week then eighteen is a big jump. But ten million is really not a lot – not compared to what shows used to get. So sure if a series got 30 million viewers a week you could expect a whopping finale number. Still, twelve years. That’s a long time for people to discover and fall in love with a show.

What I’d be interested in knowing is whether the same number of viewers knew of and at one time watched both THE BIG BANG THEORY and for argument’s sake, FRIENDS. If so, shouldn’t THE BIG BANG THEORY still get FRIENDS-type finale numbers?

THE BIG BANG THEORY could also be a victim of series finale-itis. So many series have wrapped up that it’s less of a big deal today. Series finales used to be “events.” Today not so much. Hell, the Academy Awards are meh and World Series games are getting half of what they used to draw (or less). So it’s possible THE BIG BANG THEORY does have as many fans as FRIENDS it just that the BBT fans weren’t all that excited to see the finale.

All that said, I thought THE BIG BANG THEORY finale was well done. Nice touches like the elevator finally worked.

Anyway, to compare THE BIG BANG THEORY’S 18 million viewers, here are the Top 10 scripted shows – and yes, I realize some of these are from a bygone era of just three networks, but just on sheer strength of numbers, other finales made way more of an impact.

First of course was MASH. 106 million viewers. The entire country stopped to watch that show back in 1983.

Number two is CHEERS. We drew 80.4 million in 1993 and that too was like a national holiday. Not included in those numbers was the huge crowd in the Boston Common that watched on Jumbovision screens.

Number three was THE FUGITIVE finale from 1967. For years that was the highest rated show of all-time – scripted, non-scripted, whatever. It drew 78 million. And the big story there is that ABC didn’t want a conclusion to the series but its producer, QUINN MARTIN felt it was so important he was willing to pay for it himself.

Next is the SEINFELD finale in 1998. For most fans, myself included, it really fizzled. But it was seen by 76.3 million.

And speaking of FRIENDS, they finished fifth. 52.5 million watched in 2004. That’s almost three times TBB’s ratings.

Number six surprised me – MAGNUN PI.I in 1988. 50.7 million folks checked in.

THE COSBY SHOW was number seven. 44.4 million, which is probably how much money he’s spent on legal fees over the last four or five years.

That’s followed by ALL IN THE FAMILY – 40.2 million in 1979 although Archie Bunker went on to a spin-off series.

FAMILY TIES was ninth in 1989. That’s another one that surprised me. 36.3 million were on hand for that.

And finally, HOME IMPROVEMENT captured 34.4 million in 1999.

Shows that didn’t make the Top Ten include FRASIER (#11), DALLAS (#12) and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (#15). And I’m sure they all drew way more than 18 million.

Bottom line, when long-running beloved shows don’t draw mega numbers that’s a sure sign that broadcast networks are on their way out. Their argument has always been they’re the easiest platform to access and all they need to get big numbers is a show people really want to watch. You’d think they’d want to see THE BIG BANG THEORY.

UPDATE:  The GAME OF THRONES finale, which is on HBO that only a percentage of the audience can get drew 19.3 million last night.  Just sayin'.  


Mike Barer said...

Mary Tyler Moore didn't rank? I thought that was maybe the best finale ever.

prk60091 said...

i think many more people may have watched the finale but don't show up in the numbers because it was DVR'd.

My wife and i stopped watching BBT many years ago-- but we did watch the finale -- she did DVR it (as we do with all of our TV watching cable or broadcast). It allows us to watch what we want when we want and we fast forward through commercials.

I cannot remember the last commercial i have seen.

Jim S said...

Now let's be fair Ken.

The TV world has changed dramatically since MASH ended.

As you pointed out, who watches network TV anymore. There are shows that get renewed that only have a million viewers on some of the smaller broadcast networks.

There's cable, there's Netflix, Hulu, CBS Online, Warner Online, etc.

There's movies, sports, etc. Basically, there's a lot to watch, and no, it's not "100 channels and nothing on" anymore. There's usually something good on several of them at any one time.

I will give Big Bang credit for attracting a large audience for its time. The hip comedies on networks like Comedity Network that get all the buzz online sometimes can't crack a million viewers.

So credit where credit is due, Big Bang managed to cut through the fog of entertainment to attract 18 million viewers in its 12th year.

That's not nothing.

Michael Hagerty said...

re: The easiest platform to access. It's generational, Ken. Tina Fey tells the story of being on the road and getting a call from her 14-year-old daughter one Saturday evening. She wants to know if she can watch Saturday Night Live. Tina figures she's 14---it's not only okay, it's about damn time. She says fine.

Daughter: " do I do that."

Tina: "What do you mean?"

Daughter: "How do I watch SNL?"

Tina: "Wait until 11:30. Turn on the TV, turn the cable to Channel 4."

Daughter: "Wait. What? I'll just watch it on YouTube in the morning."

tavm said...

Only 18 million viewers for the finale of "TBBT"? Wow, that's an even lower number than I thought it would get for such a popular show. I thought, maybe, 20 or 22 million...

Richard Campbell said...

Friends top 10 episodes ranged from 31.7 million to 52.9 million, with the finale coming in at 52.46 million. So almost triple The Big Bang Theory's numbers.

And it wasn't series finale-itis; 18 million was the highest rated episode for The Big Bang Theory since 9/21/2015.

So yes, broadcast networks are on their way out, or at least are so competing with other networks that everyone has a smaller share of the pie.

Michael said...

Despite the declining ratings, have the advertising rates gone up enough to afford paying the cast as much as they were or are the shows just less profitable? I have read that the 5 original cast members were all making close to a $1 million per episode the last few years.

kent said...

Does the 18 million include those who recorded the show to watch later?

James Van Hise said...

I think the finale of The Fugitive should get an award for one of the dumbest episodes of all time. He finds the one armed man and is chasing him, and where does the guy go to try and escape? He climbs a tower from which there is no exit, except to fall. Really stupid. I remember watching it and thinking, "What is this guy doing? Where does he think he's going to go?"

Keith Nichols said...

It may be harder to attract viewers to a show's finale when there are so many finales on the air. Many are "season" finales, but the TV schedules label them only as finales. And many shows have little time to establish themselves in our viewing pattern, since seasons may be only six episodes. That was not Big Bang's problem, of course, but looming over all is the fact that this country's problems are dire enough to defy the ability of a TV sitcom to provide much escape anymore.

CS said...

I think the proliferation of YouTube and other streaming sites (mostly) killed off the grand finale.

I remember the Seinfeld finale and the build up in the days and weeks before. I was a high school senior that worked as a part-time cashier at the grocery store. Some of my co-workers were big Seinfeld fans and made sure to ask for that day off work so they could watch the finale.

And why not? If they missed that finale, they had no way of knowing when they would be able to see that episode again. They either needed to watch it live or hope that a friend could tape it for them on VHS.

A high school senior who is a devoted Big Bang fan can Tivo the finale or fire up the CBS Streaming or see clips on YouTube or even find an illegal streaming site within minutes or hours of the finale. There is no feeling of "You have to watch it live or you will totally miss out" anymore, except for live sporting events.

Nonchalant Savant said...

prk60091 made the point I was thinking about. I don't watch anything on live TV anymore. Nearly all of my friends do the same. So unless the rating services take all of that into account when tallying numbers, I don't think there will be a fair assessment of the actual numbers. I watched the finale, but I watched it Saturday morning at around 11:15. Where & how does that show up and count?

benson said...

Several thoughts here in various directions.

If I am to believe that millennials are stuck with all this debt, how does everyone pay for all these ever more expensive streaming services? (And the term CBS Streaming makes me laugh, after thirty plus years of senior citizen jokes regarding the aged CBS audience.)

Ive been seeing stories about the new fall schedules. I haven't seen new show description that makes me want to tune in and check it out. (Of course, the last time that happened, i read about a show set in a Boston bar...)

Tina Fey's daughter is 14? Seems like she was just born. Wow.

Given that he was one of the favorite guest stars (and Emmy winner) the perfect ending to BBT would have been Bob Newhart waking up and telling Sheldon he should wear more sweaters.

Something Ken or maybe someone else said: All this new technology comes with a price. Finales were a national event. We experienced them at the same time, talked about them the next day, etc. Yeah, we can stream now in 4K, 5G, so what. We've lost something and it ain't coming back.

J Lee said...

The other thing, I suppose, is you can have only one epoch-ending series finale per week without one or the other sucking the oxygen out of the room, and in this case, the media coverage was far more focused for the past several weeks on the series finale of "Game of Thrones" than they were on "The Big Bang Theory".

If TBBT had signed off a couple of weeks earlier to get out from under the media shadow of the most-recent hottest TV property, more people might have noticed and tuned in. As it was, all the pop culture buzz was about who was going to site on the Iron Throne, not what was going to happen to Sheldon, Leonard, Penny and the others. The past sitcoms that have gone out with huge ratings have had weeks and weeks of build-up to send them out without being overshadowed by some other TV show saying goodbye at the same time.

Anonymous said...

It still won't set the world on fire, but Big Bang has been averaging a lift of +50% when delayed viewing over 7 days is factored in, so that would take it up to almost 27 million people watching the finale when those numbers are released. And since that is BBT's average lift this season (+50%), it might be larger given it is the finale.

Yes - network television is not the only game in town any more, but 27 million is not an unhealthy number for a medium lots of people say is dead.

McAlvie said...

I suspect that the, by comparison, lackluster finale ratings has as much to do with how we watch tv now. I rarely watch anything on the actual air date/time these days when I can wait until the weekend and get it On Demand. Frankly, I have to get up really early in the morning, and staying up late to watch an original airing is a rarity. No, I didn't stay up for GoT, either. So the fact that TBBT got as many viewers as it did for the finale is actually pretty impressive.

Its also about contemporary culture and how very busy our lives are now. Supper on the table at 6 and cleaned up in time for the family to sit down and watch tv together … just not a common occurrence anymore what with long commutes and work emails needing attention, not to mention household chores, homework, etc. Its partly multiple options and everyone doing their own thing with a streaming service; but its also that "must see tv" has to wait until we have time.

I've been thinking recently that the networks are beginning to find their own niche in this new world. For a while they relied on reality tv, trash tv (not much difference between the two but that's another subject), and reboots. But in recent years we have seen them starting to offer more family friendly fare. The millennials are growing up, you see, and starting to notice that their old viewing habits are not necessarily appropriate for their youngsters. Networks scrambled and produced reboots with dubious results; but we've also seen a little new programming that is hitting the old sweet spots.

I think networks can't calculate "success" by the old standards, but I think they can still be successful.

Chuck Cavender said...

Broadcast networks are dying, and the cause is suicide. Scripted shows routinely get shipped to a pay platform, cable or streaming. Broadcast is almost all live sports and cheap reality shows. Remember when Amateur Hour and Wild Kingdom were squeezed in on early Sunday evenings?

Mike McCann said...


As you noted, "I thought THE BIG BANG THEORY finale was well done. Nice touches like the elevator finally worked."

But if you stuck around through the YOUNG SHELDON season-ender, there was an even more impressive ribbon wrapped around BBT. The final scene where Sheldon though he had no friends -- but viewers got a "first glimpse" at who they were *going* to be.

Jeff Alexander said...

Are there ratings for those who watched it on through their computers?
Are those ratings part of the 18 million or not?
Do they even measure how many are watching on computers or Iphones?
For the record, I watched it after it was broadcast on my desktop computer.
And it's interesting to note that the Top Ten finales - ratings-wise - that you mentioned, Mr. Levine, were all in the pre-Internet (or early) days when you were "glued" to a TV screen and not a computer.
So, I think it is doubtful that we'll see ratings on broadcast networks for finales like we did in the 1980s and 1990s.
A whole new world.

Tim W. said...

I think one reason the show’s finale didn’t attract a big audience might be BECAUSE it was on for 12 years. It’s hard to keep watching a show that long. I used to watch Modern Family since you recommended it, but stopped watched a couple of years ago. I just got bored of it. And I haven’t watched the Simpsons in YEARS.

Mike Doran said...

What nobody seems to remember is that "series finales" are a comparatively recent phenomenon.
The earliest one that I recall was the original Perry Mason in 1966.
Not one of the better later shows, and anyway everybody was watching Bonanza.
The Fugitive was a year later, in '67.
The fact that they were actually going to have an ending was considered sort of revolutionary at the time; TV has always had a bad case of "conventional wisdom", based on early manifestations of America's great Junk Science, demographics (I'll spare you my usual lecture on that subject).

The notion that a long-running series had to "wrap it all up" only really took root in the '70s.
The results, we all know too well.

Coram_Loci said...

It's hard to say goodbye if you don't leave.

The show or actors are ubiquitous, accessible. Little is lost if I don't see it live. The episode will be back. The actors are on Twitter. It doesn't feel like a parting. So, what's really lost if I see it now or tomorrow?

Something is indeed lost. But in a culture that celebrates pluribus and diminishes the importance of unum, this is some of the consequence.

Steve Bailey said...

I was a huge fan of "All in the Family," and yet I couldn't even tell you the plotline for 1979's series finale. For me, the finale that counts came in 1978, when Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers left the show and left the Bunkers (and America) awash in tears.

Colin Stratton said...

I stopped watching around the time Carol Susi passed away. I thought the absence of her character took a toll on the aurora of the series. In addition, the writing and plot lines became repetitive and it felt to me the actors seemed bored as well.

Anonymous said...

Back in 2004, I had only seen parts of one or two episodes of FRIENDS, and had no interest in the finale. However it just so happened that around that time I was ...., well, committed against my will to a "health facility" (thank you internet anonymity!), where one's personal interests didn't matter. There was a tv in the common area, but the staff controlled it, and it was off 90% of the time (they didn't want us "distracting" ourselves), and was never on in the evening, with 3 exceptions, one of which was the final episode of FRIENDS. The patients were pretty much split 3 ways between those who loved the show, those who hated the show, and those who were indifferent (like me), but all the nurses seemed to like it, and so watching it was designated the "group activity" for the evening (refusal to "participate" would lead to trouble, to put it mildly), with everybody there having to squeeze in front of the tv for a crowded group viewing that seemed as surreal then as it does now. The second "event" was the FRASIER finale, which I remember being only half as crowded as the FRIENDS one, since a lot of people had been let go (I actually barely remember that one at all, since I spent the whole time curled up in the back of the room sobbing, due to events earlier in the day; I really wanted to be alone, but I think the staff was worried what might happen if they didn't keep an eye on me, and all of them wanted to watch the show--by the way, I recall the general consensus among the nurses was that Frasier should have lost his license back in his Cheers days for sleeping with patients.) The third group viewing was for an episode of American Idol (not even a finale, just one some of the nurses wanted to vote on), which to this day is the ONLY episode of American Idol I have ever seen.

Gary said...

There was zero fanfare and no publicity, but the sitcom LEAVE IT TO BEAVER actually ended its run with a finale episode. It's always dicey to say who did something "first" on television. You can read countless variations on who was the first unmarried working woman in a series, or which TV married couple was the first to share a double bed together, etc.

therealshell said...

I was gobsmacked by the Godzilla cameo in the final episode of GoT. Didn't see it coming !

Astroboy said...

If it happened in this day and age, I wonder how many people would DVR Armstrong taking "one small step for (a) man" as opposed to watching it live?

YEKIMI said...

Why should I invest my time with a broadcast network? I start to like a [scripted] show and *BAM*....cancelled. Might be halfway through a season, might be after 2 or 3 shows. And as one person stated most of it is now sports or reality TV which, to me, is like catching the measles. [It's NOT reality unless you show them waking up, coughing up phlegm, scratching their privates, farting while running down the hall to the bathroom, yelling at their kids "For the last fucking time, get out of bed or you're going to be late for school! And you can fix your own damn breakfast!", reading the paper while waiting for laundry to get know all the boring stuff people do everyday.]

E. Yarber said...

Most early TV shows didn't have a chance to end with a finale because they weren't cancelled until after a given season had wrapped. The networks weren't too crazy about the practice anyway, since they were running repeats of their most popular shows during the day and sometimes in prime time while new episodes of the originals were still in production. ABC felt that second showings of THE FUGITIVE would lose tension if the viewers knew Kimble had stopped running and was now off in Vietnam with Duke Wayne.

A few dead stops from that period come to mind, though.

HOWDY DOODY gave itself a Viking Funeral ending with Clarabelle the Clown breaking his vow of silence in the final seconds.

THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW ended with a Neil Simon-co-written mega-twist. Bilko and his pals were not only jailed indefinitely, but Colonel Hall was able to watch them on a closed-circuit TV set-up, suggesting that they'd be trapped forever on the small screen from then on. Silvers' final line was "Th-th-that's all folks!"

ROUTE 66, the non-punitive version of THE FUGITIVE, also concluded with a two-part episode as Tod got married and Linc accepted that two's company, three's too much to fit in a Corvette.

THE DICK VAN DYKE show famously concluded with Alan Brady making Rob's autobiography into a TV series, presumably followed the next week with the HEAD OF THE FAMILY pilot as the first curve in a Mobius strip.

And THE TWILIGHT ZONE was never any good for week-to-week continuity anyway, but they still ended the first season with Rod Serling inserting himself into the end of the episode and being promptly disintegrated.

therealshell said...

It ruined the borealis.

Anonymous said...

We are a middle aged gay couple in NYC - we watch most stuff on Netflix but bought HBO Now so that we could see GoT live. We got rid of cable a long time ago when it inched up to $200/month..there's just not enough on to warrant that investment (I like baseball and football, but not enough to pay $2400 a year for it). And by the way, he and I both love to watch TV so this isn't some "we're above that" thing.... we bought a twenty dollar antenna at a hardware store and watch BBT and YS live on CBS... and often talk about hooking back up ... but I keep going back to... why? commercials get more and more intrusive (and LOUD) and the shows are just not as good as other things we can find elsewhere. I should add here that we have binged the first six seasons of Frasier and are loving it (although he is really annoyed how long its taking the show to resolve the Niles/Daphne thing.... I've seen it during the original run and stopped watching it for how badly it made both of them look.... )

Andy Rose said...

The 18 million figure was the "fast national" that Nielsen puts out first. It is a rough next-morning estimate based on the earliest figures coming in from the largest markets, not unlike the way Friday night and Saturday night box office figures are used to give a "weekend" estimate on Sunday afternoons, before one-third of the weekend is even over.

The fast nationals get refined into Live + Same Day viewing once more data comes in, which is followed by Live + 3-day, and then Live + 7-day. Each succeeding figure counts more people, but is also of less practical benefit to the network. (Remember, they're in business to sell advertising. Beauty pageant numbers alone don't pay the bills.)

Jahn Ghalt said...

Thanks for the nice bit of research, Ken. You should be proud to have produced much of the top two (and Frasier of course.)

I was curious to see what the "shares" were - but not the Nielsen variety.

Rather, I scaled the viewer figures as a percentage of the average US Population in the year of the premiere.

THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW (The Beatles "episode")

Most trot out 73-million as one-half the eyeballs to see The Beatles - which was 38% of 191-million US citizens in 1964.

That comes in at 2-1/2th place - barely nudged out by The Fugitive.


For the finales, the results remained very consistent when adjusted for population.

Of course MASH wins big at 45% of 234-million Americans in 1983.

Cheers was bumped to 3rd by The Fugitive.

Friends was bumped to tie-for-6th by Magnum.

All in the Family switched with Cosby (T6th and 8th respectively).

1 MASH 45.3%
2 The Fugitive 39.5%
3 Cheers 30.9%
4 Seinfeld 27.7%
5 Magnum P.I. 20.7%
T6 Friends 17.9%

MikeN said...

Cosby Show's highest rated episode was when they went to buy a car, the highest rated half hour ever. 41 rating and a 56 share.

Ted Kilvington said...

Ken, the kids* these days don't watch shows when the network first broadcasts them, they stream the shows at their convenience. Hell, I just watched the final episode of the original Star Trek series a couple years ago, when I felt like it.

* People under 50.

Frank Beans said...

Couldn't agree more with the basic idea: Bring back comedy. When I watch a show, I want to laugh, not knowingly smirk. I get enough of the latter in everyday life as it is.

MASH, CHEERS, and FRASIER are the gold standards.

No, make that platinum. Or silver?

Mike H. said...

Ken, There are a lot of reasons why the ratings for BBT finale were down. The first, and most important, is that the whole ratings system is not just broken, but almost laughably out of date and out of touch. I'm no millennial and I don't remember the last tv show I watched "when it was on." I watch shows on my schedule, as do most people.
Comparing ratings from the late 90's to now is a bit "old man yells at cloud."
There are many more choices as well. So the 3 choices we had when Archie Bunker was on does not compare, in any way, to what is happening now in the tv landscape.
Also, you might remember, in the 80's I believe there was an attempt at a newer system of finding out who was watching what shows, far more accurately. When it didn't return the results that the networks expected, they canned the whole thing.
The current ratings system is an old and fairly innacurate way of determining success or failure. Problem is, nobody wants to improve it.

Kaleberg said...

Actually, those are pretty impressive numbers. Still, things have definitely changed. I could tell it was coming when I bought my first VCR back in 1978 and stopped watching television shows live. I had watched television as a kid, but when I grew up, I just didn't want to make an appointment to watch a show I liked, so I rarely watched. I was never one to watch whatever show was on. There usually wasn't anything on, and cable didn't really improve things much. Once I bought a VCR, I started watching shows again, but rarely anything live, because why bother.

Over the years, the technology has gotten better, and more and more people started thinking like me. Televised drama is more like book drama. When you want to a story, you open a book or a stream. Maybe you just want to read/watch a little. Maybe you want to binge. I don't know how many times I've read a book in a series and then devoured several by that author or with those characters in a row. Similarly, I'll watch several shows or an entire season.

Watching shows live was an artifact of the medium. In the old days, if you wanted to watch a play, you had to show up for a performance during its run. Radio and television were even fussier. You had to catch that one time it was broadcast. I remember how liberating syndication was. Now, you can just pull a television show down from the shelf and watch it like a reading a book. Maybe script writers need to start negotiating like authors. Get an advance for a "print run" up front and royalties over a certain number of sales or streams. Maybe script writers would get a little more respect. Just as people wait for their favorite authors to produce their next book, they'd watch for the next show from their favorite video writers. Maybe the writers would be the one's selling the package. It would be about their name, not the networks.

It may be a new world, but there are some opportunities there.

Tom Galloway said...

Re: Game of Thrones audience size. Almost certainly much larger based on 1) it's supposed to be the most pirated show in HBO history and 2) while I realize this isn't counted in the other finales you mentioned, GoT was a worldwide phenomenon, and certainly picked up millions more in non-American audiences. These days US shows, particularly very popular ones, air on or close to the same date they do in the US*. But then it was probably a smaller percentage of global population than the US viewership, legal and illegal, was of US population.

*Over the past year I've been making several trips to Southeast Asia. At least on the English satellite/cable channels carried in the hotels, which are a mix of US shows from various networks and cable, they make a big deal that they're showing them "same day" as in the US (the quotes because the region is 14-15 hours ahead of Pacific time and on the other side of the Intl. Dateline, so it gets a bit tricky figuring out just what "same day" really means).

Rory Wohl said...

I watched TBBT religiously all of the seasons it was on (mostly time-shifted in the later years), and I didn't even realize this was the last season until one of the end credits said something like, "Only 2 more episodes left." Seems like, for all the money it made for them, CBS didn't really promote the series finale.

J. said...

The Live +3 day rating adjustment puts Big Bang at 24.4 million... In four more days they'll announce the Live +7 numbers.

Janet said...

I thought that the finale had a lot of heart, and a good place to take the Sheldon character.

Ken, do you think Jim Parsons was smart to end the series when he did or will he end up the latter-day MacLean Stevenson?

I know Simon Helberg can act, as I saw him in a film opposite Meryl Streep.

But I hope he can find work as his Wolowitz is really what he is known for and that character always struck me as a real creep.

Andrew said...

For those who are unhappy with the Games of Thrones finale, there's a better one directed by John Hughes:

Mike Barer said...

No one else mentioned Mary Tyler Moore. I'm surprised.

Mark R said...

I'm in Australia, so I'm not sure if that's representative of US viewers, but BBT is repeated ad nauseum on multiple TV channels. I feel like if I missed the finale, then I could still catch it at midnight, or wait a couple of weeks and it will be repeated. I don't feel any urgency to watch a final episode because I know I'll catch it again later. When the MASH finale aired, you had to watch it live because you never knew how long you'd have to wait to see it again.

Rachel X said...

Every time the networks say that ratings are a fraction of what they used to be because most viewers are streaming and they can't keep track, I call BS. When you receive a promotional email (e.g. MailChimp), the sender can tell when/where you looked at it, how long you looked at it, how many times you looked at it, and what parts of the screen you clicked on the most, etc. And yet networks are telling us that they can't count how many times people watch their streams?!?!?!?!

Deserttrek said...

never watched either one of the

A.B. Prosper said...

It might be worth considering that the US population has increased by 30% since 1984 and so numbers measured as percentage are smaller than they might appear

For example 18 million is only 12.6 million in 1984 numbers.

Rory Wohl said...

According to Todd VanDerWerff:

HBO released a number showing Game of Thrones edging out Big Bang, but that number included a bunch of streaming views that don’t have independent verification outside of HBO. I have no reason to doubt that number, but have trouble calling it “official.” And even if it is, the point remains: Just as many people watched Big Bang as Game of Thrones, but you heard a whole lot more about one than the other.

mike said...

Agree with Steve Bailey, CBS should have ended All In the Family, one of my faves, btw, when the Stivics left for California. In the last scene M & G are out the door to the cab, Archie gets a little sobby in his chair, Edith sees this from the kitchen and announces she's coming in with his beer to give him a minute to compose himself. Then she comes out with the can of beer and he says, 'All right, Edith, leave it there,' like he always did. And Edith sits and they both contemplate their futures. Poignant as hell, and they should have left it right there. But IIRC, CBS offered Carroll O'Connor a then-astronomical $250K per episode to keep going (or maybe I'm misremembering and that was for AB's Place). And I believe the last ep was when Edith gets sick running herself into the ground at St. Patrick's Day, which was a pretty weak way to end such a great show. And I think the last Beaver was a clip show, but they did wrap it up, unusual at the time.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

These days, individual YouTube videos are getting 15 million views. Grav3yard Girl, was getting those numbers just two years ago, now her numbers are 60-120 thousand views.