Interesting facts about television ratings

Not sure what to make of this - I ain't no television exec - but there's probably an interesting trend in there somewhere.

As football fans are preparing for the epic showdown (the so-called Super Bowl 41 1/2) between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts (which the Pats will win), I heard somewhere that the game will probably draw higher television ratings than some past Super Bowls. That's huge stuff.

So I checked out the all-time top rated TV programs. 22 out of the Top 50 were Super Bowls plus an NFC Championship game. Clearly, football dominates the list. The next closest thing was "Roots" with 7 placings.

However, this is not what caught my eye. It was the breakdown of how many programs were listed by decade that interested me. Here's what I found:

1960s - 7 programs
1970s- 21
1980s- 16
1990s - 8
2000s - 1

That the 70s leads the way makes me wonder if the quality of programming was that good or were people just that much more easier to keep on their couches? In any event, I have no clue what the story is on the 60s but clearly from the 70s onwards there's a steady decline in mega-programming. The 90s were just the beginning of the tech revolution which explains why the numbers dipped significantly.

However, notice the number of programs from this century. With two years to go, it looks like this decade will have the lowest number of shows with high ratings since the 60s.

Are indeed just continuing the tech boom? Will online sources be growing in stature as a result? Is it increasingly hard to keep people in front of their sets with the arrival of new technology such as the Internet, iPods, podcasts and yes blogging? Are people simply finding other things to do? Are we way too niched out to be herded anymore?

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