Tuesday, February 9, 2010

'M*A*S*H' knocked-off: Is that good for advertising?

Not to call out Professor Anderson, but recently in class, he noted that nothing would ever top the ratings of the M*A*S*H series finale, which reached 105.97 million viewers in 1983.

And why wouldn't he say that? Nothing has come that close ever since, and with the slew of cable, pay-cable, OnDemand, online and other channels, the audience is fragmented beyond belief.

Well, never count out the appeal of a city coming back from disaster and Peyton Manning.
Last Sunday's Super Bowl, broke the record held by M*A*S*H and became the highest-rated single-day television program ever. 106.5 million viewers watched the game on Sunday. This continued the NFL's big year on television, where a Monday Night Football game topped the cable record for all-time viewership, both conference title games were the highest-rated in two decades and even the Pro Bowl reached its highest levels of viewership in 10 years.

Obviously, there is a big difference between singular events and scripted events that you can watch later without being that spoiled, but this still feels like a significant occurrence. The NFL's success proves that there is still at least one type of television format that appeals to masses of people.This is good news for advertisers as well, who surely spent millions of dollars to reach the eyes of those watching the game.

But could the growing success of NFL games, specifically playoff games and the Super Bowl, be a bad thing for advertisers?

Maybe I'm just playing devil's advocate here, but despite the success of this one event, Professor Anderson's comments hold true. Rarely, and I mean rarely, do television events or episodes reach past the 30 million viewers mark unless it is a sporting event and the occasional award show.

So it's obvious a new model of advertising needs to be created. What, I'm not quite sure, but it seems to be that both the ad and television industries will use this Super Bowl's success as a way to say, "What we're doing is right! Tradition holds!" because that is the kind of thinking they usually deploy.

Good for CBS, perhaps bad for new advertising models moving forward.

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