Despite the overexposure of the downward-spiraling Charlie Sheen in the media, it seems TV viewers have not yet tired of the troubled Two and a Half Men star.
ABC’s 20/20 special with Sheen Tuesday night, which the network initially touted as an “exclusive” get (before the word lost all meaning with regards to this story) drew the best ratings for the newsmagazine program in two years – since Feb. 13, 2009 – and 9.3 million total viewers
Keep in mind that after ABC scheduled the 20/20 special for Tuesday, it got scooped by NBC’s Today show, which slated its “exclusive” Sheen sit-down for Monday morning. Since then, Sheen has done live interviews on TMZ.com, Piers Morgan Tonight, Howard Stern’s radio show, and appeared on Today again Tuesday and Wednesday.
And the television audience continues to listen. In addition to the highs for 20/20, Piers Morgan’s sit down with the star earned his CNN program its largest audience since its premiere episode (with Oprah) and its best adults 25-54 demo numbers ever.
Earlier this week B&C’s Ben Grossman argued that ABC should cancel the 20/20 interview in favor of taking a stand on what “real” news means at the division. But with ratings like these, who needs standards? It seems unlikely any program is going to walk away from the story of a celebrity self-destructing before our eyes. Like a car crash, it seems TV viewers can’t look away.