For more than a decade, Allen owned his time slot as the foremost of radio comics. Allen was popular with the masses as well as the intelligentsia. Allen's most celebrated stunt was his fake feud with Jack Benny, also a top-rated radio comedian. Both would appear on each other's show to exchange insults. Allen's humor resonated with Americans during the Great Depression and World War II, but as prosperity exploded after the war, Allen's comedic attacks on the successful weren't as nearly well-received. By the late-1940s, Americans wanted to share in the success, not mock those that were already successful . . . the reality was that even without TV, Allen's schtick had worn thin.
By 1950 there were 108 radio programs that had been on the air for 10+ years, with 12 of them being on the air for over 20 years. In 1953, when President Eisenhower ended the freeze imposed by Truman on awarding new TV stations, there were only 108 TV stations, with only 24 cities having two-or-more stations (it wasn't until 1951 that coaxial cable stretched across the U.S.). By 1953-54, people started to watch markedly more television, with massive toilet flushing in cities during commercial breaks, and people going to restaurants much earlier to be home for their favorite shows. Also, products advertised on TV soared in terms of public acceptance. The success of TV even threatened the movie industry, with theater closings being blamed on the new invader.
Vaudeville comic. Berle's humor was manic, sometimes even vulgar, and never droll. Berle arrived on TV in 1948 by chance: Texaco was looking for an emcee for their TV version of Texaco Star Theater, and Berle thought he would be a great fit for television. When Berle was hired, there were only 500,000 TV sets in the U.S.
Almost from the start, Berle's show in Tuesday night became a weekly national event. The very success of Berle's show meant more TV sets were sold. A year into the show Berle was so famous he was on the covers of both Time and Newseek in the same week. The 42 year old Berle was America's first TV superstar. Where Allen was cerebral, Berle's comedy was very often over-the-top, which meant that he had to be seen.
Berle was paid $5000/week (nearly $50k in 2015 dollars) to do what he loved and did best. In 1951, NBC signed Berle to a 30 year contract for $200k/year, and it was at precisely that moment that Berle began to slip in the ratings. The further TV reached to non-urban areas, the lower Berle's rating became. As Berle's ratings decreased, his humor became more manic than ever, and he even changed the format of his show in the 1952-53 season. In essence, the show became more predictable and actually featured less of Berle. Texaco dropped its sponsorship when the show dropped to fifth in the ratings, and in the 1954-55 season, the show dropped to 13th, and soon Berle's show was only broadcast every 3rd week.