Flush Ratings

In 1974, the Lafayette waterworks in Louisiana revealed an apparent correlation between drops in water pressure and television viewing habits. In particular, the water pressure would drop immediately after popular shows and movies had aired... presumably from viewers waiting until the end of the shows to relieve themselves:

The record drop in water pressure to date, a plunge of 26 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure, came at the end of the TV showing of the movie "Airport." The movie "Patton" chalked up 22 and "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" checked in with a respectable 19.

So, the idea was floated that flush ratings might serve as a surrogate for the Nielsen ratings.

I had always thought that the idea of popular TV shows having an impact on sewage systems was an urban legend. However, while Snopes dismisses the idea that any shows such as the Superbowl have ever broken a city's sewage system, they allow the lesser claim that massive simultaneous flushing can put an observable strain on a city's waterworks, noting: "toilet use during breaks in large-audience programs can certainly be much higher than average."

Related post: Flush Polling

North Adams Transcript - July 5, 1974

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 09, 2020
     Category: Bathrooms | Television | 1970s

Any Englishman knows this. The association between Chrimbo episodes of Eastenders and a peak load on Dinorwig is common knowledge. It's also... let's be fair on both sides and say somewhat garbled in the re-telling rather than a complete mystification; but still it's well known in the UK that there is more than just a kernel of truth in this.
Posted by Richard Bos on 10/10/20 at 11:17 AM
Nowadays, with DVR pausing and the auto watch TV on the John via a smartphone or tablet, thus isn’t as useful a metric.
Posted by Brian on 10/14/20 at 02:47 PM
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