Friday, April 17, 2015

"Little interest in sequels"

When people try to argue for funding private space exploration through television revenues, the remarkable viewership of Apollo 11 is often mentioned, but since it's difficult to monetize a spike, we should probably consider the performance of all of the missions.

From Media, NASA, and America's Quest for the Moon by Harlen Makemson
The spectacle of lunar conquest would have a short-lived hold on the attention of the American public. Aside from a spike during the imperiled Apollo 13 mission, viewership waned throughout the remainder of the lunar program. The networks responded accordingly by allotting less and less time to space coverage. Each network devoted fifty-plus hours of airtime to Apollo 11; NBCs thirty-five hours of coverage of Apollo 12 far outdistanced that provided by its two competitors. And by the time Apollo 17 made the country’s final moon voyage in December 1972, only one television station in the country – Houston’s public television outlet -- showed the entire twenty-plus hours worth of lunar surface excursions.

The public, it seems, had made up its mind about the space program long before Armstrong’s boot had hit lunar dust. A national survey on the eve of Apollo 11 indicated that Americans backed the moon landing by a 51-to-41 percent margin, essentially reversing the results of a similar survey months earlier. Beneath the surface though, the same poll showed that the country hadn't changed at all: More than half of the citizenry still thought the annual 4 billion price tag for the space program wasn't worth it, a percentage that had varied little since the mid-1960s. Given the amount of time and money they had invested toward the lunar conquest though, Americans made the decision to enjoy the resulting blockbuster when it was released over the country’s airwaves. Most had little interest in the sequels.

No comments:

Post a Comment