Last night, the shutout by Seattle over Denver and the rousing but uneventful half-time performances of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers provided one of the most tame Super Bowl games viewers have seen in years.
Critics have claimed that TV is dying thanks to cord-cutting services like Netflix and Hulu, but there’s one aspect of Super Bowl XLVIII that could quash these declarations:
According to The Hollywood Reporter, an average of 111.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Peyton Manning and his crew duke it out against Seattle. That’s up 3 million from last year’s Super Bowl, which averaged 108.4 million viewers.
These are still preliminary figures, and more data is being collected, but those statistics emphasise the power of live television.
The New York Times’ David Carr writes that when it comes to an extravaganza like the Super Bowl, watching it live holds special power that can’t compare with watching it on a DVR. He says:
At a time of atomization in which we all end up down the hobbit holes of our special interests, big, live television fulfils a need to have something, anything, in common. You can go on Twitter on any given night to discuss the second episode of the third season of “Girls” with your like-minded pals, but if you want to talk about something that your boss, your mother, your cabdriver and your bartender all have an opinion on, this week it will probably include the words “Peyton Manning” and some cliché about what can happen on any given Sunday.
Most of us were scouring social media last night for any snarky tweets or sarcastic status updates about Peyton missing his mark on a pass. TV still has the power to unify us around these spectacles. In age age where information is abundant and we have countless choices to view content, it’s still impressive that we gravitate towards our social media accounts to talk about what that happened on television which is supposedly outdated.
Live events is the one area that TV has over Netflix. Reed Hastings can mock HBO and brag about 44 million subscribers but this is where Netflix ambitious expansion plan is going to falter.
Streaming services can give us what we want on demand but nothing beats the thrill of sharing in a collected moment at the same time. T.V. isn’t dying, it just has a faint pulse.