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93 Million Toast End of ‘Cheers’ : Television: The finale becomes the second most-watched program in TV history, second only to the closing episode of ‘MASH’ in 1983.

An estimated 93 million people tuned in to watch the closing of their favorite bar, NBC reported Friday--making the “Cheers” finale the second most-watched program in TV history.

Figures from the A.C. Nielsen Co. showed that the 98-minute broadcast on NBC Thursday night was seen in 42.4 million U.S. homes--a whopping 64% of the people watching TV at the time.

Only the final episode of “MASH” on Feb. 28, 1983, reached more homes, 50.1 million, with an estimated viewership of 121.6 million people. (Records are not kept for news events covered simultaneously by multiple networks.)

In the Los Angeles market, which includes Orange and Ventura counties, the broadcast was viewed in about 2.2 million homes--63% of all the households that were watching TV from 9:22 to 11 p.m.

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Many of the viewers stuck around to see the festivities that followed. KNBC-TV Channel 4, which devoted most of its 11 p.m. newscast to the “Cheers” story, was seen in about 1.4 million homes--more than four times as many as watched KABC-TV Channel 7 and KCBS-TV Channel 2 combined.

And “The Tonight Show,” which originated in Boston and featured the “Cheers” cast, recorded its third highest ratings ever, NBC said, with 15 million homes tuning in.

NBC said Friday that it will repeat the “Cheers” finale on Sunday from 7 to 9 p.m.


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