I often wonder who was actually watching it back in 1952. But yes, incredibly forward thinking.
The short answer is "very few people":
NBC vice-president Sylvester "Pat" Weaver had high hopes for the production, but only 31 affiliates and one lonely sponsor signed up initially. The whole notion of people viewing television (what little there was) in the daytime was a major hurdle for the show to overcome - watching TV during daylight hours was considered decadent behavior in 1952.
The show's pace was slow and steady - often the program would broadcast 4 or 5 minutes of nothing but the crowd outside while music played. But then, life generally moved a bit slower in the fifties. Keep in mind, only one in ten households had a TV set in 1952; it was a genuine technical marvel that folks around the country could be looking live at people standing on a street corner in New York.
After the first year, ratings and ad sales were so dismal the staff was certain that cancellation was inevitable. Critics served it up cold. TV writer Jack Gould pronounced, "In the jargon of show business, it needs a lot of work."
Things began to change when a chimp named J. Fred Muggs was brought in to attract children and also proved popular among adults:
By 1957, the show was a solid moneymaker for NBC and J. Fred Muggs was a genuine TV superstar. He was even a panelist on NBC game shows of the time!