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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jericho, Nielsen, and You-Part V

Ratings / share and total viewers

Nielsen Television Ratings are reported by ranking the percentage for each show of all viewers watching television at a given time. A single national ratings point represents 1%, or 1,152,000 households for the 2006-07 season.

Share is the percentage of television sets in use tuned to a specific program. These numbers are usually reported as (ratings points/share). For example, Nielsen may report Jericho as receiving a 9.2/15 during its broadcast, meaning 9.2%, or 10,598,400 households on average were tuned in at any given moment. Additionally, 15% of all televisions in use at the time were tuned into this program. Nielsen re-estimates the number of households each August for the upcoming television season.


Nielsen also provides statistics on estimated total number of viewers and on specific demographics. Advertising rates are influenced by the total number of viewers and by particular demographics, such as age, sex, economic class, and area.

There is some public critique regarding accuracy and potential bias within Nielsen's rating system. In June of 2006, however, Nielsen announced a sweeping plan to revamp its entire methodology to include all types of media viewing in its sample.

Criticisms of the system:

1. Since viewers are aware of being part of the Nielsen sample, it can lead to bias in recording and viewing habits. This criticism is common to any and all survey research. This trend seems to be more common for news programming and popular prime time programming. Also, daytime viewing and late night viewing tend to be under-reported by the diary methodology.

2. Another criticism of the measuring system itself is that it is not random in the statistical sense of the word. Only a small fraction of the population is selected and only those that actually accept are used as the sample size. Of the sample data that is collected advertisers will not pay for time shifted (recorded for replay at a different time) programs [5] rendering the 'raw' numbers useless. In many local areas, the difference between a rating that keeps a show on the air and one that will cancel it is so small as to be statistically insignificant, and yet the show that just happens to get the higher rating will survive.[6]

3. In 2004, News Corporation retained the services of public relations firm Glover Park to launch a campaign aimed at delaying Nielsen's plan to replace its aging household electronic data collection methodology in larger local markets with its newer and more accurate electronic People Meter system. The advocates in the public relations campaign charged that data derived from the newer People Meter system represented a bias toward underreporting minority viewing, which could lead to discrimination in employment against minority actors and writers. Nielsen countered the campaign by revealing its sample composition counts. According to Nielsen Media Research's sample composition counts, as of November 2004, nationwide, African American Households using People Meters represented 6.7% of the Nielsen sample, compared to 6.0% in the general population. Latino Households represent 5.7% of the Nielsen sample, compared to 5.0% in the general population. This showed that ethnic minorities were actually overrepresented in the sample, contrary to what was charged in the News Corporation's public relations campaign.

4. Another criticism of the Nielsen ratings system is its lack of a system for measuring television audiences in environments outside the home, such as college dormitories, bars, and other public places where television is frequently viewed, often by large numbers of people in a common setting. Recently, however, Nielsen has announced plans to incorporate viewing by away-from-home college students into its sample. Current measurement devices offered by all media measurement companies in these scenarios are challenged in determining whether an audience member was just in general proximity to a television signal, or whether they were actually paying attention to the programming. Internet TV viewing is another rapidly growing market for which Nielsen Ratings fail to account for viewer impact. Apple iTunes, atomfilms, YouTube, and some of the networks' own websites (eg: ABC.com, CBS.com) provide full-length web-based programming, either subscription-based or ad-supported.

Tomorrow: What's New With Nielsen




2 comments:

Be patient, for the world is broad and wide said...

Hi.Great blog!I just posted your link on my blog.

Jericho Saved said...

Hi,
Thank you for visiting and posting a comment. Many more thanks for adding me to your blog. May I return the favor?