There is No Such Thing as Mass Culture Any More

I'm told that the finale of "Lost" had the third highest ad rates of this season, behind only the Superbowl and the Oscars.  How many people watched those ads?  According to Bloomberg News, about 13.5 million.

Compare that to the finale of MASH, which was watched by almost 106 million viewers (including me, up late by very special dispensation). 

Now, MASH was the most watched finale of all time.  But the stark difference between its numbers and those of the most-heralded finale of the year illustrate why no series is ever going to surpass MASH's record.  (The superbowl finally did this year, as people tuned in to watch the Saints.)  We live in a different world, one where there's something for almost everyone--but not the same thing.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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