Super Bowl XLVII Did Beat Goodbye, Farewell and Amen in Viewers


Final Nielsen ratings for Super Bowl XLVII were released earlier this week and as predicted, its 108.6 million viewers did not beat the record set by the 2012 Super Bowl which was seen by 111.3 million viewers. But it was enough to top the 105.9 million viewers who watched “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” back in 1983. The series finale of M*A*S*H is now the fifth most-watched television broadcast of all time in the United States, behind the 2012, 2011, 2013 and 2010 Super Bowls:

Most-Watched Television Broadcasts in U.S. History
Program Year Average Viewers
Super Bowl XLVI 2012 111,346,000
Super Bowl XLV 2011 111,010,000
Super Bowl XLVII 2013 108,693,000
Super Bowl XLIV 2010 106,476,000
“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” 1983 105,970,000

As pointed out in the comments section of my earlier post about Super Bowl XLVII, this has to do solely with population growth. There are simply tens of millions of additional potential viewers these days. In terms of raw ratings however, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” is still on top with a 60.2 Nielsen rating. It’s the only program to have a 60.0 or higher Nielsen rating. In fact, only two other programs have drawn a 50.0 Nielsen rating or better. The highest-rated Super Bowl of all time (XVI; 1982) drew a measly 49.1 by comparison.

I’ve updated my Goodbye, Farewell and Amen Ratings Analysis to reflect the numbers for Super Bowl XLVII.

5 Replies to “Super Bowl XLVII Did Beat Goodbye, Farewell and Amen in Viewers”

  1. Not just population growth, but there are now other forms of watching programs besides television, people are now watching programming on the computers, their cellphones, their tablets, etc… none of which was in existence during the time GFA first aired.

    1. Good point. What if GFA aired again today as a special, especially if it were put in some vault like Disney does with some of their movies?

  2. There are MANY different ratings since 1983… in 1983, there were only household TV ratings. Today, we have demographic TV ratings (introduced in 1987) and we get TV ratings on all kinds of delayed TV viewing. For a big event like the Super Bowl, there is almost no delayed viewing – people want to watch it live and people want to watch the commercials. And people don’t want to watch it on their tablet or smartphone, which TV ratings don’t measure anyway. GFA would have been different – if available, people would have watched on their DVR, etc. So it is pretty clear that the rating is driven by population growth. In fact, a 1 household rating just means 1% of the total TV households. So if there are roughly 120 million TV HH today, a 1 rating = 1.2M households. Next year, that will likely mean a higher number. And in 1982, my guess is that 1 rating was under 1M TV HHs. Population growth will mean GFA will keep falling in the list of total viewers, but because of all of today’s technology and number of channel choices, no show will ever come close to a 60+ rating.

    1. You are correct; in 1983, each rating point equaled roughly 833,000 households. Today, each rating point is 1.14 million households.

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