M*A*S*H: Did Super Bowl XLIV Really Beat the CBS Sitcom’s Last Episode?

MASHThere’s an awful lot of hoopla today over the ratings of last night’s Super Bowl XLIV broadcast. In case you haven’t heard, the CBS broadcast was watched by an estimate 106.5 million people. The last episode of M*A*S*H, which aired on CBS in 1983, attracted approximately 106 million people.

As a result, many in the media are very happily reporting that the old M*A*S*H sitcom has finally been dethroned as the most-watched telecast in TV history. Well, yes and no.

While it’s true that more human bodies watched the Saints beat the Colts, it seems appropriate to try to put it in perspective. If you merely look at the total number of viewers, it’s going to be easier and easier to surpass the record as the population grows.

In 1983, there were approximately 233.8 million people living in the United States. Today, there are 308.6 million. So, that’s approximately 25% more people that were available to watch the game in 2010 than the sitcom’s last episode in 1983.

Which program's record is more impressive?

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In addition, one of the most impressive parts of the M*A*S*H record is the percentage of households that were watching.

A record 60.2% of households with televisions tuned in to see the 4077th crew say goodbye. In contrast, only 46.4% of households watched yesterday’s game.

Sure, there are far more channel options to watch these days but really, there have always been other things to do and watch.

Of course, whichever way you look at the numbers, CBS is the big winner.They broadcast both programs.

What do you think? Is the M*A*S*H record still more impressive or are we just partial to series finales?

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