Critics and audiences don’t always agree, as the Queen’s funeral service confirmed once again on Monday. Does it have to be, some asked, that ARD and ZDF report for hours, live and twice from London? Showing the way of the royal coffin to Windsor in eternal images in aerial photographs, accompanied by moderately enlightening comments from aristocratic experts? It had to be, judged the audience. The interest in the television broadcast was huge on all channels, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. an average of almost 3 million people watched the first one, and more in the evening.
Now the farewell of the eternal Queen was a historic and, of course, global event. How many people do you think watched it on screen around the world? Interestingly, there was already a number for this before the funeral service: 4.1 billion, “according to estimates”. Half the world’s population.
Apparently, a single woman is the originator of the 4.1 billion – how did she come up with the number?
Not only British tabloids referred to this number as Daily Mail and metro, but internationally innumerable media, in Germany among others the correspondent of the “Tagesschau”, a contribution of the Deutschlandfunk and the news agency epd. The Media Critic Stefan Niggemeier joined in overmedia on, why a serious estimate of global audience numbers of this magnitude is difficult or impossible to achieve, especially not with decimal places. And how the number spread worldwide. In Germany, for example, it was given credibility by a Hamburg expert who quoted the ominous 4.1 billion and referred to other “experts”. So who is the original expert, the originator of the 4.1 billion?
Apparently, writes overmedia, one woman: Her name is Carolina Beltramo and she writes for a blog called WatchTVAbroad.com. Beltramo, according to this website, is a TV critic from Argentina, loves movies and binge watching Netflix. It was she who, days before the funeral, made the much-quoted assessment that “no fewer than 4.1 billion people are expected to tune in on Monday to witness this historic event, when half the people will be up pausing on planet earth to pay their respects”. So we asked Carolina Beltramo of WatchTVAbroad.com: How did she come up with the 4.1 billion?
An answer comes after a few hours by email – not from Argentina, but from a spokesman for a PR agency in London. Where else should one be able to provide information about how many parts of the world’s population were interested in the Queen of England’s farewell? But then the disillusionment: “It is impossible to know for sure how many people see a certain event at a certain time,” says the letter. Carolina Beltramo’s estimate was based on “viewership from similar events in the past” and adjustments for “population growth” and the fact that mobile technology is prevalent today.
That’s it for the explanation. Pi mal thumbs live stream, the 4.1 billion were done. A secure global quota – one suspected it – does not exist. Maybe it’s enough to know that there were probably enough viewers to justify double reporting even in these days of criticism of the public broadcasters.