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Super Bowl Sums Up TV in America

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Advertisers got their money’s worth this year with the most watched Super Bowl ever. According to Nielsen, the Super Bowl averaged 97.5 million viewers throughout the game. Only the final episode of MASH beats that number in American television history.

However, the situation is more complicated than the Nielsen ratings suggest. First, I don’t think I saw more than three commercials during the game. I was at a Super Bowl party, and even though we were watching live (i.e. no DVR pauses or rewinds), commercial breaks meant time to talk with friends and a chance to visit the chocolate fountain in the other room.

Advertisers shouldn’t despair, however. Today I checked out several of the Super Bowl commercials online. Pepsi ad with Justin Timberlake? Not bad.

It strikes me that this scenario is strikingly representative of American TV culture at the moment – a mix of broadcast and Web video, and a television experience that extends beyond the time window of a single broadcast event. What other elements will we add in a few years? More mobile TV? More on-demand TV? More interactive and “social” TV? Check back after Super Bowl XLV.