Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beatles History: The Beatles Smash the Nielson Ratings

One of the most staggering Beatles facts is that on February 11, 1964, the Nielson TV ratings reported that 73,000,000 viewers (equaling roughly 25,000,000 American households)had watched the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show the night before, on February 9, 1964. This was a staggering statistic for the time and demonstrated how rapidly Beatlemania was spreading across the country. It was the modern day equivalent of an item going viral on the Internet.

This statistic about the number of people watching the Beatles is all the more impressive when one considers that 1) the population of the U.S. was only about 225,000,000 as opposed to 2009's 300,000,000; and 2) that the spread of Beatlemania occurred only by word of mouth and transistor radio, where the Beatles' hits were starting to play every hour around the clock on all rock radio stations. And, of course, a single night of exposure on American TV.

The number of fans today is probably well over a billion, and few people on the planet do not know who the Beatles are. Europe had been enmeshed in Beatlemania in the latter part of 1963. After a single night of TV on February 9, 1964, history would be changed forever.

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