Media: TELEVISION; Stand aside, CNN. America's No. 1 TV export is -- no scoffing, please -- 'Baywatch.' - New York Times
But facts are facts. "Baywatch," which is about the adventures of lifeguards on a California beach but is really mostly about swimwear and suntan lotion, has a wider audience on the planet Earth than any other entertainment show in history.
As one of its financial backers put it, "Over a 30-day period it certainly reaches almost every person in the world who watches television."
Though some may debate what this says about the international perspective on American culture, apparently nothing can match the magnetic pull of wet California girls -- and guys -- on a beach.
Even Japan imports "Baywatch," without the threat of tariffs. The show is seen in China, and in all the Asian countries reached by Star TV, Rupert Murdoch's satellite delivery system. For five years it has been one of the most popular shows in Britain. People even watch in Iran, behind the backs of the mullahs.
"I would say it is seen in 144 countries," said Paul Talbot, president of the Fremantle Corporation, which sells the international rights to the series. But, he said, "We don't really sell the show by country anymore. Now we sell it by language."
"Baywatch" is now translated into 15 languages, he said.