Saturday, July 28, 2007


Shortly after I started my blog I was directed to BlogCatalog. My lucky day!

BlogCatalog is a social blog directory. What's that? You can promote your blog(s) here or find blogs you like. BlogCatalog will list your blog and they provide a forum where you may ask questions, make suggestions, or promote your blog shamelessly.

Blog Rank - analyzes your hits, views, comments, neighborhood members and more to create a numeric score based on a 100 point scale. Your Blog Rank is used to determine the order blogs appear in the Directory and Search Results. The higher your score the better your placement.

Views - How many unique visitors have looked at your BlogCatalog listing

Hits - How many unique visitors have clicked through to your blog from BlogCatalog.

You can add friends, join communities, and find other blogs about a multitude of subjects. You can see how many people have visited your blog from BlogCatalog and I love the widget that lets me see who has visited me.

I've made a lot of new friends and my traffic has greatly increased so get over there and add your blog. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nielsen Falls Short

1. "TV Measurement Comes Up Short
Most Agree the Payment Model Is Broken; They Just Differ on How to Fix It"
By Brian Steinberg
Published: July 23, 2007

"When CBS yanked sci-fi drama "Jericho," it was caught off guard by the enormous fan reaction. The network, which eventually agreed to keep the show on the air, hadn't realized that the program had a significant following among viewers who watched it on the web and via DVRs, said Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp.'s chief executive, at a recent event.
What galls him is that those audiences aren't helping networks as much as their executives might like. "Jericho" fans need to "show up on the television," Mr. Moonves scolded. "That's how we get paid."
( Mr. Moonves, I have an idea for you. Count all the Jericho fans who ARE in front of their TV's. You know- the ones Nielsen fails to count.)

Almost everybody wants to change Nielsen -- they just can't agree how. The ability of Nielsen to measure a range of media venues won't be fully realized until at least 2011. In the meantime, with $70 billion in total TV spending at stake, the networks are trying to prove that their audience numbers haven't dwindled -- they've just splintered into other viewing venues such as DVRs, streaming video and video iPods.

Please sign the Petition asking CBS to count ALL viewers.

2. According to a recent study from Nielsen, the number of folks watching online video continues to rise, while a third of those respondents said that watching Web video actually increases the amount of traditional television they watch. Only 13 percent of those surveyed said that watching video online has decreased their watching television.

The study found that 81 million broadband customers reported watching online video, up 16 percent from September 2006 to March 2007. The 16 percent hike has been getting some attention.

3. "Watching TV programs on the Internet has jumped 16 percent in six months, but it hasn’t cannibalized the traditional TV audience, according to a new study conducted by Nielsen for The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM)".
The study, A Barometer of Broadband Content and Its Users found that as of March 2007, about 81 million people or 63 percent of the 129 million people who access the Internet over broadband, watch broadband video at home or at work, up from 70 million in September 2006.
Broadband viewing is also likely to continue to increase as it becomes easier for viewers to find and view programming on the Internet. Some 32 million lighter broadband users reported being open to TV programs on the Internet.
The top broadband video brands dominate broadband video viewing with ABC.com the leading Web site among all the TV networks. Yahoo! Movies was the leader in the movies.

4. Later this month, Nielsen will be testing a new metering device which will plug in to iPods, MP3 players and other personal video devices (PVDs) to enable measurement of video-based programming wherever it is being watched.
* It will detect video and audio played on any portable media device
* Enhanced tracking research to determine which devices are being adopted by consumers and which devices are actually being used to watch video
* The recruitment of a panel of 400 known iPod owners to track their video and audio usage, both on their iPod and through the iTunes software portal
* The creation of a separate wireless division called Mobile Vector, to pursue measurement of video and other activity on cellular devices .

5. Just got the numbers for online video sites for June from Nielsen/NetRatings and Veoh has registered the second fastest growth among major video sites, jumping 254 percent from the same month last year. The fastest growing of the major players is Yahoo! which is up over 400 percent.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Jericho, Nielsen, and You- Part IV

Television today a form of information and entertainment that connects multiple platforms and reaches audiences at every possible level. Digital technologies are providing new and more targeted means to reach audiences, and consumers are using these systems and devices to decide for themselves when, where and how they watch television.

Nielsen Media Research has undertaken several major initiatives to modernize media measurement, including:

* Launching the Active/Passive Meter, which provides the digital platform for capturing what is viewed on the screen and serves as the basis for measuring all time-shifted and place-shifted viewing
* Constructing a state-of-the art worldwide technology center in Oldsmar, Florida
* Introducing electronic Local People Meters into the top 10 local markets
* Measuring Digital Video Recorder (DVR) viewing
* Measuring Video on Demand (VOD) viewing
* Securing a majority stake in Nielsen//NetRatings (Net Ratings, Inc.), the leading Internet measurement company

Soon to be launched:

HeyNielsen is an interactive and fun environment created by The Nielsen Company where you can share opinions on your favorite entertainment, such as TV, Movies, Music, and more.

Tomorrow: Understanding The Ratings

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jericho, Nielsen, and You- Part III

Nielsen collects viewing information for national and local programs — not only what's being viewed but also the composition of the audience (demographic data).

Daily household minute-by-minute viewing and tuning data, from both the national and local metered samples, is stored in the in-home metering system until it is automatically retrieved by Nielsen computers each night. Once the data is relayed via phone lines to the operations center in Florida it is processed that same night for release to the television industry the next day.

Nielsen collects information from approximately 25,000 metered households starting about 3 a.m. each day, process about 10 million viewing minutes a day, and makes over 4,000 gigabytes of data available for customer access the next day. They collect and process data from 1.6 million handwritten paper diaries from households across the country during sweep periods.

When the meter data is transmitted from the home to Nielsen, it is in raw code form. Nielsen then runs a series of tests to ensure the integrity of this data.

If a problem is discovered, the system will flag the data from that household, analyze the problem, and determine the best course of action for correcting it. The solution may be as simple as calling the household to gather some information. In other cases they may schedule a Nielsen representative to visit the household and repair or replace metering equipment, or re-coach the family members on usage of our equipment.

Once the data has been validated, Nielsen's systems combine the transmitted and internal reference data to convert it to ratings information.

Sometimes advertisers want information such as are children watching cartoons with their parents or which zip codes are tuning into the football game? Answers to these and other questions help clients place advertising effectively, determine if a program is working well on a particular day, or decide if pairing it with another program would yield better results.

Stay tuned. More tomorrow in Part IV.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jericho, Nielsen, and You- Part II

Nielsen Media Research has the ability to connect their meters to the vast majority of home entertainment products currently on the market, including 10,000 television sets, 7,000 VCRs and dual decks, 100 set top boxes, and peripherals such as gaming systems. In a household, they connect to every television set that receives at least one channel and has a screen size of more than five inches. ( Yes, 10,000 homes determine the ratings for us all.)

After the equipment is installed in the home, Nielsen representatives teach household members how to use the meters. For the duration of the agreement, a family's rep will follow up with the household on a regular basis to encourage continued participation and ensure that the equipment is being used correctly and is functioning properly.

Nielsen uses two types of meters:
1. Set meters capture what channel is being viewed.
Set Meter samples
Large to mid-sized local markets (such as Seattle, San Antonio and Memphis) are measured by a meter that gives information about set-tuning only. In these markets, demographic information is provided by a separate sample of people who fill out seven-day paper diaries (or eight-day diaries in homes with DVRs).

2, People Meters add information about who is watching.
The People Meter is a “box” — about the size of a paperback book — that's hooked up to each television set and has a remote control unit. Each family member in a sample household is assigned a personal viewing button, which is matched to their age and sex. Whenever the TV is turned on, a light flashes on the meter reminding viewers to press their assigned button and to indicate that they're watching television. Additional buttons on the People Meter enable guests who are also watching to participate in the sample by entering their age, sex and viewing status into the system.

Diaries are used to collect viewing information from sample homes in almost every television market in the United States. Every year Nielsen processes approximately 2 million paper diaries from households across the country for the months of November, February, May and July — also known as the “sweeps” rating periods. This information provides a basis for program scheduling and advertising decisions for local television stations, cable systems, and advertisers. In some of the larger markets, diaries provide viewer information for up to three additional “sweeps” months (October, January and March).
Over the course of a sweeps month, diaries are mailed to a new panel of homes each week. At the end of the month, all of the viewing data from the individual weeks is aggregated.

Smaller markets ( Honolulu, Hawaii; Tallahassee-Thomasville, Fla., and Fargo-Valley City, N.D.) are measured by paper diaries only. These seven-day diaries (or eight-day diaries in homes with DVRs) are mailed to homes to keep a tally of what is watched on each television set and by whom.

* Note:
Sun. in this article by Susan Young she says, "While fans have been able to influence network programming decisions in the past, the cancellation and resurrection of "Jericho" points to a flaw in the network rating system that has angered viewers for decades: The Nielsen ratings system.
CBS's Chief Research Officer David Poltrack says there are flaws in the system, especially when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy show tracking.
"The system depends on people who agree to cooperate with Nielsen," Poltrack says. "So people who are into sci-fi and fantasy may not be the kind of people who want to be a Nielsen family."
These days, network executives are taking notice of viewer campaigns and Internet interest more than ever when deciding the fate of their shows."

I'm glad Susan noticed and I know CBS knows. I hope this is a sign that they are working on a solution. It needs to come soon.

Stay Tuned....

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Jericho, Nielsen, and You

There continues to be much talk regarding the Nielsen ratings so I am going to do a series to try and help all of us understand them better. While ratings are not my main focus they are a spoke in the wheel. The summer repeats of Jericho have not had the best numbers and the Fall season numbers are extremely important.I don't want to wait until Fall to learn how to fight the Nielsen ratings system if necessary. We'll look at the history of the company, how homes are selected, tools, and more. We must understand what we're up against if we one day decide to take on this battle.

Arthur Nielsen began his career testing products for manufacturing clients to ensure they performed up to specifications. Companies then had no way of knowing how best to spend their advertising dollars. Soon after, Arthur Nielsen essentially founded the field of market research by visiting sample stores in various geographic areas in order to track the movement of different brands then told clients how well their products were doing against the competition.
He inaugurated a National Radio Index for broadcasters and advertisers in 1942, followed by a television ratings service in 1950.

First, Nielsen scientifically selects a group of households that mirrors the population at large. Samples include homes from all 50 states. There are people from cities, towns, suburbs and rural areas. There are homeowners and apartment dwellers — some with children and some without — across a broad range of demographic categories. Nielsen includes people of all ages, income groups, geographic areas, ethnicities and educational levels — all in proportion to their presence in the population at large. Once homes are selected and agree to participate, great care is taken to protect their identity and privacy, and no data about individuals or specific households are ever disclosed.

Can you volunteer? No. Nielsen says, "To include volunteers would violate basic laws of random sampling practice and skew our results. A truly representative sample of the population can only be generated using statistical methods of selection."
Wikipedia defines a simple random sample as "a group of subjects (a sample) chosen from a larger group (a population). Each subject from the population is chosen randomly and entirely by chance, such that each subject has the same probability of being chosen at any stage during the sampling process. This process and technique is known as Simple Random Sampling."

How does Nielsen select a household?
Households are selected through one of two different methods:
1. Geographic selection (area probability sampling) in the national sample and larger markets.
2. Randomly-generated telephone numbers (Total Telephone Frame) in smaller markets.

Nielsen's statistical research department begins with broad, U.S. Census-defined geographic areas then they send field representatives to identify every housing unit in these areas, regardless of size or accessibility. Nielsen will then narrow the selection down to individual, randomly-selected housing units. Using this method, all households have an equal probability of selection into the sample. This allows for complete coverage of the country, since no homes are excluded by design.

"For Total Telephone Frame sampling, Nielsen's statistical research department uses random digit-dialing to generate a call list that includes both published and unpublished telephone numbers in a Designated Market Area (DMA). Rather than using recordings, our Call Center staffs in Florida and Kentucky personally make multiple attempts to reach households, ensuring that they have a chance to be included in the sample."

Tomorrow: Installing and monitoring meters.