Did you watch the Super Bowl? If so, you were far from alone. And I mean very, very far. The early ratings are in and CBS absolutely cleaned house on Sunday night. The big game always draws a lot of viewers, but CBS averaged more than 123 million across all of its outlets, with 120 million tuning in to the primary broadcast network. That’s not just the biggest audience for a Super Bowl game (a seven percent increase over last year) but was nearly the biggest television audience of all time for anything. The network is claiming that it was nearly as big as the audience for the moon landing. (We’ll break that down here.) But was that because of the popularity of those two teams? Or was it because Taylor Swift was there? If the latter, that’s kind of a sad statement about our popular culture in my opinion. More on that in a moment. (NY Post)
Super Bowl 2024 delivered record viewership for CBS Sports.
CBS announced Monday that it averaged 123.4 million viewers across CBS, Univision, Nickelodeon, Paramount+, and the NFL app, with 120.0 million of that coming via the main feed on CBS, the most in Super Bowl history.
The previous record was last year’s tilt between the Chiefs and Eagles (115 million), which aired on NBC, for an increase of seven percent. The 120.0 million on CBS specifically was also the largest audience for a single network.
I wasn’t paying much attention to the game, but we did have it on our television. So I suppose I’m “part of the problem” here. But it’s still worth asking how many of those people were football fans and how many of them probably didn’t really give a hoot, but they were “Swifties” hoping for a glimpse of the pop star. (The network obligingly cut away to her on a regular basis.)
I should point out that I have nothing against Taylor Swift. I know very little about her and couldn’t name one of her songs without doing a web search, but that’s only because I’m not into that style of music. I am reliably informed that she works very hard, writes her own songs, and pays the people who work for her well. On the few occasions I’ve come across a clip of her performing, I thought she had a very pleasant voice and some skillful dance maneuvers. As a capitalist, I do not begrudge her the success she has achieved, and wish her the best.
But with all of that said, she’s a pop star. Comparing the juice she apparently added to the Super Bowl audience to the moon landing seems ludicrous. And let’s talk about those moon landing numbers for a moment. The Post notes that the audience for the first moon landing in 1969 was an estimated 125 to 150 million. (We didn’t have ratings down to a science back then.) The US population is currently pegged at 335.8 million. In January of 1969 it was less than 205 million. Similarly, the global population grew from 3.2 billion to 8.1 billion during the same period. Taken as a percentage of the total population, the Taylor Swift Super Bowl didn’t come anywhere near the moon landing. It’s not even in the same ballpark if you’ll pardon the phrase.
The reason should be obvious. Again… Taylor Swift is a pop star. There were many before her and many more will follow. The Super Bowl is a ball game that happens reliably every winter. The moon landing was a singular event and an achievement of historic proportions, launching mankind’s journey to explore the cosmos. The entire world was watching with bated breath. I enjoy football as much as the next person and I’m sure many of you enjoy pop music. But let’s keep some perspective, shall we?