Back in the days of must-see TV, the big thing in blockbuster Brit telly – one thinks of the 1987 episode when Hilda Ogden left “Coronation Street” or the 1965 Royal Variety Show with Shirley Bassey – the dread moment was always the commercial break when 26-30 million viewers across the British Isles would stampede for the tea kettle and/or the bathroom and the entire national energy grid would creak under the strain.
Fortunately, since Al Gore became Programmer-General of Saturday night entertainment, TV looks like going the way of the buggy whip. In the United Kingdom:
BBC’s live afternoon television coverage attracted an average British audience of just 900,000. In the evening, when coverage switched from BBC2 to BBC1, the figure rose to just 2.7 million.
That’s versus 30.15 million for the 1986 “EastEnders” episode where Den divorced Angie. In the United States:
The main three-hour American TV broadcast on NBC averaged a meager 2.7 million viewers, ranking as the least-watched U.S. program on Saturday night and falling below NBC’s summer prime-time Saturday average, Nielsen Media Research reported on Monday.
That’s versus 45.69 million for the 1994 Winter Olympics ladies’ figure skating short-form program, or 27.26 million for the 1970 Bob Hope Christmas show. Could it be that all the people who wanted to watch the show went to see it live? Possibly:
Former US vice president Al Gore took a swipe at global warming doubters Saturday as he opened the Washington leg of the worldwide Live Earth concerts that he helped organize… A few hundred spectators turned out for the concert, which began at 10:30 am (1430 GMT).
The other explanation is that global warming is now so out of control it’s no longer possible to sit inside and watch television:
The BBC blamed the poor figures on Saturday’s good weather and said its Wimbledon tennis coverage had drawn away afternoon viewers.
Alternatively, global cooling is now so out of control the very concept of outdoor rock concerts is now in jeopardy:
Organisers of Live Earth Johannesburg are convinced climate change is to blame for the paltry turn-out at the Coca Cola Dome today (July 7).
Promoter John Langford claims it snowed last week for the first time in a quarter of a century, and the freezing conditions are keeping people away.
Too hot and sweaty to stay inside and watch Al Gore on TV, too cold and shivering to go out and watch Al Gore in person, a terrified populace huddled on the porch all Saturday as climate change swirled all around them.
Still, I see the “Live Earth” crowd are sticking to their claims that two billion people watched the show. This is apparently the “hockey stick” theory of TV ratings. If Nielsen call sell it to advertisers, it may yet save Katie Couric.