New Study Reveals Beatles Are All-Time TV Ratings Champs!
Wednesday February 4, 5:00 am ET
Fuller Version of This News Release Is Online At www.thefab40.com/media/ratings.html
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The Beatles emerge as the all-time TV ratings champions in a new study published today. The survey -- based on official statistics from Nielsen Media Research, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the U.S. Census Bureau -- makes comparisons of the size of TV audiences over a 40-year span using the gauge of official population percentages.
The study was commissioned by the Fab 40! Committee -- a non-profit collective of friends, family-members and associates of the Beatles who have come together to encourage cultural celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Beatles invasion of America (including events at Lincoln Center, The American Film Institute, The Museum of TV & Radio and The Smithsonian.)
The Beatles made four appearances on CBS' "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964-5 and scored monster TV ratings each time. Their first three shows (in February 1964) scored especially high numbers -- with the programs attracting a record-breaking 73 million, 71 million and 59 million viewers respectively.
However those once impressive audience numbers have been surpassed in subsequent years by shows such as the finales of "M*A*S*H" (105 million) and "Cheers" (93 million) -- and the average Super Bowl (80-90 million). Measured by pure numbers alone -- the Beatles' remarkable feat seems less impressive today.
But because the PERCENTAGES of the U.S. population that watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan were so vast -- their first two appearances each attracted approximately FORTY PERCENT OF THE NATION -- the new survey restores the Beatles to their throne as the All-Time TV ratings champions.
The study emerges on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on Ed Sullivan -- and as the four historic shows are made available to the public for the first time on a new DVD release "The Four Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring The Beatles" (Sofa Home Entertainment). The DVD features 20 live performances by the Beatles including 7 #1 hits.
The first Beatles-Sullivan show was watched by a staggering 40.5% of the nation. The second show attracted 39.2% of the US. Those two broadcasts top 1982's "Super Bowl XVI" (38.13%) and the legendary 1980 "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of "Dallas" (37.78%).
The only TV broadcast that was viewed by a higher percentage of the U.S. population than the first two Beatles-Sullivan shows was the 1983 finale of "M*A*S*H" -- which attracted 46.9%. However -- unlike the two Sullivan shows which were regular-duration one-hour shows in a regularly-scheduled timeslot -- the "M*A*S*H" finale was a special national TV event -- a 150-minute TV movie special.
Among regular series TV and against every other TV event, mini-series, the TV premieres of blockbuster movies, televised sports events (including all 38 Super Bowls and the Olympics), TV specials such as the Academy Awards and Grammys -- the first two Beatles-Sullivan shows are still the champions.
The Beatles rank high in several of the "All-Time Best" categories in the survey. Among the highlights:
-- THE ALL-TIME TOP 75 OF ALL TV SHOWS (including sports events)
The Beatles star in TWO OF THE TOP THREE TV SHOWS OF ALL-TIME.
They have a third show in the Top 20 (at #16) and a fourth show
in the Top 75 (at #59).
-- THE ALL-TIME TOP 30 OF ALL TV SHOWS (excluding sports)
When statistics for 42 televised sports events with extended coverage
(minimum 3 hours in duration) such as the Super Bowl, World Series and
Olympics are excluded from the chart -- the Beatles star in THREE OF
THE TOP SIX SHOWS OF ALL TIME. And star in a fourth show at #23.
-- THE ALL-TIME TOP MUSIC, COMEDY & VARIETY SERIES AND SPECIALS
In the category of music, comedy & variety -- for both series and
specials -- the four Beatles-Ed Sullivan shows are the TOP FOUR
SHOWS OF ALL TIME!
OTHER FACTS ABOUT THE FOUR BEATLES TV SHOWS
-- The Beatles appeared on a total of four separate episodes of the
"Ed Sullivan Show."
-- The first three appearances (in February 1964) attracted record
-- Total viewing figures for the first three shows: 205,581,000
-- The fourth appearance (in September 1965) attracted 47,452,000
-- The combined number of viewers who saw the four shows was: 253,033,000
-- An average of 63.3 million per show
-- A cumulative audience of over a quarter of a billion people
Note -- The average "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964 without the Beatles -- attracted a TV audience of just 24 million viewers. A third of the audience size for the Beatles.
SOURCES FOR STATISTICAL RESEARCH
Official statistics from Nielsen Media Research, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -- and the U.S. Census Bureau
Detailed news release with full survey results and charts -- and visuals to illustrate the story -- all available online at www.thefab40.com/media/ratings.html