Note: This article is from The Guardian.
Despite the many hours of programming on the royal wedding being threatened by America’s networks, I’ve long had a suspicion that Americans themselves are really not very interested.
That’s not to say they aren’t aware of it. They certainly know it’s happening, and many of them have asked me if I’m excited by the proceedings. But when I’ve turned the question around and asked if they were going to watch the wedding, the response has been blank incomprehension: why?
Anecdotal evidence aside, now there’s some proof that they really don’t care: a respectable survey by the New York Times and CBS News [pdf] found that only six per cent of Americans said they were following news about the wedding “very closely”, and just a further 22% said they were following it “somewhat closely”.
Meanwhile, 38% of those polled said they were not interested at all and 30% were not following it very closely.
Extrapolating from the data, fewer than one out of five of those polled show firm interest in watching at least some of the event on television – a figure that may come as a surprise to the US networks, which appear to be doing their utmost to force Americans into consuming the event. (ABC alone is offering 20 hours of coverage.)
Put it this way: if the royal wedding was running for president, its campaign would be in trouble.
The stumbling block – based on the Americans I’ve talked to about it – is that the wedding has none of the fairytale elements or novelty that made the 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana such a big hit in the ratings.
The NYT/CBS poll shows that Americans largely like the royal family, with the principals all getting high favourability ratings, with the exception of Prince Charles – and even he was regarded in a favourable light by 38% of those polled.
The problem, perhaps for the entire royal family and the wedding itself, is that Princess Diana remains by far the most popular royal of them all among Americans, with a 75% approval rating. The Queen only got 61%. But Princess Di is otherwise engaged.
That might explain why CNN’s ads for its documentary on Kate Middleton – “The women who would be queen” – involve a portrait of Middleton tastefully surrounded by six images of her deceased mother-in-law. “Will it be different this time?” the ads intone, desperately trying to summon up the spirit of 1981.
But it may not work. The New York Times – which accurately headlined its discussion of the poll results “Royal wedding is drawing a yawn from many Americans” – carried this quote:
“I think it’s a lot of hoopla, all that pomp and stuff,” said Eric Zeff, 49, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “They did that for Charles and Diana, and see how their marriage turned out.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010