Eighty-eight percent of American adults viewed the August total solar eclipse directly or electronically, according to a survey by the University of Michigan.
The audience of 215 million adults is nearly twice the size of the viewership of recent Super Bowl football games.
The national study, conducted in cooperation with NASA, found that 154 million American adults watched the eclipse directly. Approximately 20 million adults traveled from home to another area to be able to watch the solar eclipse, usually seeking a higher degree of totality.
“This level of public interest and engagement with a science-oriented event is unparalleled,” said Jon Miller, director of the International Center for the Advancement of Scientific Literacy at U-M’s Institute for Social Research, in a press release.
This is the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse to occur in nearly a century and the wide availability of television, the internet and smartphones alerted most adults to the event. Some individuals were not able to step outside and view the eclipse because of work or other obligations, explaining why about 61 million American adults viewed the eclipse electronically.
Miller’s survey — beginning on the evening of the eclipse and continuing for a week after the event — found that most adults viewed the eclipse with their family, friends or co-workers. Only 3 percent viewed the eclipse as a part of an organized group.
The eclipse was widely shared: One in three viewers took pictures or a video of the events and about half of those adults reported that they shared their pictures with others using social media, email and other electronic means.
Most adults who viewed the eclipse found it to be both enjoyable and educational. On a zero-to-10 scale, Miller found that adults gave the viewing experience a score of 7.6 for being enjoyable and 7.0 for being educational.