This was the perfect storm for advertisers. Two weeks of unrelenting hype. An exhilarating rematch between teams from the #1 and #5 media markets to determine the champion of America's favorite sport. Perfection on the line.
Yet when the dust cleared "only" 43.3% of all televisions in the country tuned in to witness the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.
The only way a 50 rating is going to ever happen again is if Martians visit our planet and hold a one-night singing competition to determine the fate of Earth. And it has to be shown exclusively on one broadcast network. Until "Alien Idol" happens, the final episode of M*A*S*H will reign supreme.
Of course, if such an event occurred it would presumably be shown without commercials. I mean, I'm pretty sure the Martians wouldn't appreciate crappy ads for domestic beer and foreign cars distracting the public's attention. Nor would our intergalactic overlords want to be brought to you by Cisco Systems.
Thus in the ultimate of ironies the most-watched broadcast in the history of television would make no money.
Now that would be the end of western civilization as we know it.