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M*A*S*H still ratings king

One more note about ratings, then I'll leave you nice people alone on that topic until the Super Bowl and the Olympics:

It's important to keep in mind the distinction between the household rating, which measures the percentage of homes watching a given show, and the viewership estimate, which represents a total number.

Because of the ever-rising U.S. population, viewership numbers tend to grow even if the rating is flat or shrinking.

That is why if Super Bowl XLIV becomes the second show to crack the 100-million-viewers mark it will be an impressive accomplishment in our fractured, modern media world, but still not as impressive in relative terms as the record 106 million who watched the M*A*S*H finale in 1983.

There were about 75 million fewer Americans then than now, which is why the show needed a massive 60.2 rating to reach its viewership mark.

Super Bowl XLIV probably won't get a rating over the mid-40s, but it still probably will reach 100 million people.

Having said all that, the figures for Sunday's conference championship games were phenomenal by any measure.

The NFC drew its highest viewership total in 28 years and its highest rating in 14.

Photo: AP (Yes, I know that's not a picture of Alan Alda from his MASH days.)

New York Sports