Didn't watch "Friends" finale? Join the club

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
No, I didn't tune in for the "Friends" finale on NBC Thursday night. Apparently, I wasn't the only one.
According to an Associated Press story, more people tuned in to see the final episodes of other notable series, like "Cheers" "Seinfeld" and the all-time champion of finale episode ratings, MASH.
Now, that doesn't mean nobody saw it. Estimates claim more than 50 million people tuned in for the "Friends" farewell.
Of course, that doesn't touch the "MASH" finale which garnered more than 100 million viewers when it went off the air. But, that was back in the days of the big three TV, before cable in every home.
So, how do we put these numbers in perspective?
Well, according to the CIA fact book (yes, there is one: it's at www.cia.gov), Russia has a population of 144 million. Great Britain has a mere 60 million subjects of the Crown, while Australia, erstwhile British penal colony claims a puny 19 million. Lots of elbow room in Australia.
Then you have the big guns. China lays claim to a whopping 1.29 billion people. India is nipping at China's heels with 1.049 billion – people.
And right here in the good ol' U.S. of A., our current population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is 291 million and change.
So, less than a quarter of our population watched the "Friends" finale Thursday night.
Despite that, nearly everyone's heard of Ross and Rachel and the rest of the cast. They've permeated our collective consciousness, become part of our popular culture.
But it's likely no television show will ever top the "MASH" ratings. Our media has become fractured into thousands of smaller channels broadcasting to smaller audiences.
No longer will the three big channels command the viewing attentions of the television watching populace.
So, if you didn't catch "Friends" Thursday night, don't feel bad.
There were roughly 241 million people in this country and about 6.3 billion people around the world who either watching another channel, or doing something else completely. Hopefully they were doing something completely different.
Arthur McLean is the Editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached by calling 368-2123 or by email: newsroom@atmoreadvance.com.com

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