News that Super Bowl XLIV surpassed the series finale of M*A*S*H as the most watched television program in U.S. history prompted comparisons to another recent entertainment record-setter. "What a year!" gushed Gawker's Richard Lawson. "First Avatar ascends to the top of the box office pile, and now we have a shiny and enormous new television record."
A media first is not the only thing linking the Super Bowl and Avatar. Just as detractors argued Avatar's box office mark was the product of inflation and a larger population, some are pointing out the Super Bowl had a larger potential TV audience than M*A*S*H did in 1983. Below the Beltway's Doug Mataconis fleshes out an enlightening nugget most news stories buried.
Even if the record stands, however, the M*A*S*H numbers do win out in one respect: "There are more American homes with television sets now (114.9 million) than there were in 1983 (83.3 million). An estimated 77 percent of homes with TVs on were watching “M-A-S-H” in 1983, compared with the audience share of 68 for the Super Bowl."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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