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A 2010 study by the A.C. Nielsen found that the average American watches almost five hours of television a day. Many households have more than one set, so that families aren't besieged with conflict as their members attempt compromise on whether to watch "24" or the Justin Bieber concert.

In 1946, however, studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck couldn't imagine TV getting much traction.

"Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months," he predicted. "People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

Zanuck wasn't the only person to get it wrong. The New York Times ran an article in 1939 that said, "The problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn't have time for it."

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