The NYT brings out the big numbers for its Olympic coverage today:
At 8 p.m. on the eighth day of the eighth month in the year 2008 — eight being a lucky number in China — the world looked toward Beijing and the 91,000 people inside the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest. The global television audience was estimated to surpass four billion viewers, though in the United States, the opening ceremonies were not carried live.
The audience inside the stadium I’m sure is right. The audience outside is, if you’ll excuse me, utter crap.
Dan Radosh, in 2005, demolished the idea that the Oscars are watched by one billion people — and in doing so he reckoned that the maximum potential television audience for any event couldn’t be more than two billion.
The ceremony still hasn’t been seen by a single person in the USA, and it was held at just about the most audience-unfriendly time imaginable as far as Europe is concerned. Plus, it’s a ceremony, not a major sporting event. Does anyone seriously imagine that over half the world’s population is going to stop what they’re doing to watch some kind of synchronized son et lumière show? I’m not going to see a minute of it, and no one I know is going to watch it either.
I have no idea how many people will actually end up watching the ceremony: I suppose it’s conceivable that it might break the 100 million mark, worldwide. But a billion? No. And four billion? Fuhgeddaboudit.
(HT: Free Exchange)