Super Bowl XLV: The Most Watched TV Program Ever
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
FOX, you just won the Super Bowl of ratings with the Super Bowl, what are you gonna do now? How about give away $5 million dollars to the winner of Simon Cowell's The X Factor.

These two news stories are unrelated, except that everything is bigger on FOX. First, yesterday's Super XLV was the most-watched TV program ever with over 111 million viewers. It beat the record previously held by last year's Super Bowl at 106.5 million.

In fact, right now, eight of the 10 most-watched programs in the history of television are Super Bowls. The only exceptions are the M*A*S*H* series finale at 106 million viewers and the Cheers series finale at 93 million. The rest of the top 10 features the six most recent Super Bowls as well as the Super Bowls from 1996 and 1998.

However, the most-watched show ever didn't exactly help Glee. The special post-Super Bowl episode was watched by 26.8 million viewers, which is a record for Glee but hardly a record for post-Super Bowl content.

Last year, Undercover Boss followed the Super Bowl and had 38.6 million viewers. It also fell short of the last FOX show to get the coveted time slot, House, which had over 29 million viewers in 2008. The first Super Bowl on FOX in 1997 also got 29 million viewers for its post-show episode of The X-Files.

But as impressive as having the most-watched show in the history of television, it's nothing compared to the announcement that the winner of Simon Cowell's new show The X Factor, which will premiere this fall, will get $5 million. That's five times as much as Survivor or The Amazing Race and it's the kind of money that will attract even crazier contestants than American Idol.

My only thought is this: Is there anyone talented enough to deserve $5 million in America? I'm a fairly egotistical person, but I don't think I'm worth that much money, and I'm not just talking about my talent, I'm talking about the value of my entire life. To let a reality show contestant win that much money seems a bit extreme.

The real verdict, however, will be the ratings. The X Factor certainly won't beat the Super Bowl, but can it beat American Idol? That's the question.

(Image courtesy of FOX)