A Record 3.3 Million Israelis Watched Shalit's Return on TV

50% of all televisions were tuned into a channel reporting on Shalit on Tuesday morning; by prime time, 70% were watching.

More than 70% of the country tuned in to see Gilad Shalit's release on Tuesday, a record for Israel, said Dr. Yifat Ben-Hai Segev, head of the Israel Audience Research Board (IARB).

On Tuesday morning, 50% of all televisions were tuned into a channel reporting on Shalit; by prime time, 70% were watching, or 3.3 million people. Viewership was up, starting at 7 A.M. that day when the prisoner exchange with Hamas got underway.

Gilad Shalit - AP - October 2011

As a point of comparison, 42% of televisions tuned in at prime time on the day Shalit was kidnapped in 2006, and that was for a limited period, not all day, she said. Viewership was high by international standards, too - 20 million of Britain's 60 million citizens watched Prince William get married this year, which is only 33%.

The country's online news sites also saw unprecedented spikes in traffic, with Ynet and Walla! reporting double their usual readership.

News outlets clamor for Gilad interview

Meanwhile, news outlets around the world have requested interviews with Gilad Shalit, including "60 Minutes," NBC and ABC, as well as outlets in Turkey, France, Germany, Britain and China, said Tami Sheinkman, who volunteered as the head of the Shalit family's public campaign.

Currently, the Shalit family is turning them all down. The family has made no agreements to talk with anyone, including book deals, she said. The media agreed not to publish pictures of Shalit without the family's agreement for 10 days, she said.