Wednesday, July 08, 2009

There is no way this is a made-up number

The First Post makes a bold claim for Michael Jackson's funeral audience:

Sixteen American TV networks carried the memorial live. In Britain BBC2 cleared its schedule to show the service in its entirety, and around the world it is estimated to have been watched by one billion TV viewers.

"Cleared its schedule" sounds so much more exciting than "held over an episode of Eggheads", doesn't it?

But what about the "billion" viewers? The First Post calls this an estimate, which is fine - but who has estimated it? On what basis?

Or is it merely a clicking of the tongue, extrapolating that it was shown in a few countries, and picking a large sounding number out of the air?