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Old 06-19-2006, 08:41 PM   #1
Nate the Grate
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Default anybody know how they determine TV ratings?

I understand that they take a segment of the population and not the whole thing, but how do they determine who counts as a viewer and who doesn't? nobody leaves their TV on one channel for an entire program anymore, even if they plan on watching the whole thing. I certainly flip around during commercials or downtime. (yeah I know there are exceptions, someone's going to pipe in with "I NEVER change the channel").

in short, I want to help the NHL ratings but I want to watch the Red Sox too! woe is me!

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Old 06-19-2006, 08:51 PM   #2
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I was friends with a guy who refused to change the channel during TV shows. he didnt like to "miss things" and it was really annoying

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Old 06-19-2006, 08:51 PM   #3
Floppy Nono
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raitings are so fucked up these do they count the people who dvr the programs and watch them later?

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Old 06-19-2006, 08:51 PM   #4
Floppy Nono
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Originally Posted by vipbrj
I was friends with a guy who refused to change the channel during TV shows. he didnt like to "miss things" and it was really annoying

who's your new icon? it's creeping me out

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Old 06-19-2006, 09:32 PM   #5
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when we had it they were just like "write down the programs you watched" and they had a little schedule set up like the TV guides are. so i guess you could watch half-and-half, but I don't know how that would get counted. I'd assume the shows on dvr would get counted during their regular showing time.

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Old 06-19-2006, 10:16 PM   #6
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Nielsen Ratings
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When TV viewers or entertainment professionals in the United States mention "ratings" they are generally referring to Nielsen Ratings, a system developed by Nielsen Media Research to determine the audience size and composition of television programming. Nielsen Ratings are offered in over forty countries.

Other television audience measurement systems are available from other companies, as well as systems developed in joint ventures with Nielsen Media Research, such as AGB Nielsen Media Research. Arbitron has a ratings system for measuring the audience size and composition of radio programming.

Nielsen's ratings calculation, also called Cume Rating (or "Reach"), measures the number of unique viewers or households tuned to a television program in a particular time period during a week. The Cume itself is calculated by dividing the number of unique viewers or households by the total number of estimated available households/viewers/listeners possible. This gives a percentage Cume rating. [1]

The system has been updated and modified extensively since it was developed in the early 1960s by Arthur Nielsen, and has since been the primary source of audience measurement information in the television industry around the world. Since television as a business makes money by selling audiences to advertisers, the Nielsen Television Ratings are the single most important element in determining advertising rates, schedules, and program content.

The company is owned by Dutch conglomerate VNU. Its production operations are located in its Brooker Creek Global Technology and Information Center in Oldsmar, Florida.

Contents [hide]
1 Measuring ratings
1.1 Ratings/Share and total viewers
1.2 "Sweeps"
1.3 Criticism of Ratings Systems
2 Annual top-rated shows
3 External links
4 References

Measuring ratings
Nielsen Television Ratings statistics are gathered in two ways: one is by extensive use of surveys, where viewers in various demographics are asked to keep a written record (called a diary) of the television programming they watch throughout the day and evening. The other is by the use of a limited number of Set Meters, which are small devices connected to all the televisions in a home. These devices electronically transmit the viewing activities of panelists and transmit these records nightly to Nielsen through a collection unit placed in the home. These Set Meters allow market researchers to study television viewing habits on a minute to minute basis, seeing the exact moment viewers change channels or turn off their TV. Additional use of direct reporting devices (called People meters) allow the company to break out household viewing information into various demographic groups.

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. As of 2005, there are an estimated 110.2 million television households in the USA. A single national ratings point represents 1%, or 1,102,000 households for the 2005-06 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 a show as receiving a 9.2/15 during its broadcast, meaning 9.2%, or 10,138,400 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 Media Research also provides statistics on estimated total number of viewers, and on specific demographics. Advertising rates are influenced not only by the total number of viewers, but also by particular demographics, such as age, sex, economic class, and area. Younger viewers are considered more attractive for many products, whereas in some cases older and wealthier audiences are desired, or female audiences are desired over males. Television ratings are not an exact science, but they are a powerful force in determining the programming in an industry where millions of dollars are at stake every day.

Because ratings are based on samples, it is possible for shows to get 0.0 rating, despite having an audience; CNBC talk show McEnroe was one notable example.

Much of the ratings system, however, still consists of the completion by viewers of ratings diaries, in which a viewer records his or her viewing habits, generally for a week, in exchange for being advanced a nominal fee. These diaries play an especially important role during the four annual sweeps periods conducted in February, May, July and November in an attempt to measure smaller local market audiences in markets that are not covered by People Meter samples already. (Other, smaller sweeps are conducted through the year in the markets large enough to be measured by non-demographic meters, but not large enough to be measured by the demographic meters (people meters).)

The term "sweep" refers to how the diaries are handled by Nielsen Media: They are mailed to the households and processed by starting on the East Coast and "sweeping" across the nation.

Television networks and other programmers make unusual efforts to attract additional viewers during these periods, including airing mostly first-run programming as opposed to repeats, airing more special broadcasts, and including special content in programming such as guest stars, controversial and unexpected plots or topics, extended episodes, finales, and increased competition in advertising. Even news programs are often involved, airing especially controversial or titillating investigative reports and promotions. For this reason, the "sweeps" system of national ratings has been criticized as not representative of typical programming, and encouraging an increase in content of concern such as violence and explicit sexuality. Outside of these peak periods it is more common to see reruns of television programs.

Criticism of Ratings Systems
There is some public critique regarding accuracy and potential bias within Nielsen's rating system.

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. Audience counts gathered by the self-reporting diary methodology are sometimes higher than those gathered by the electronic meters, which provide less opportunity for response bias. 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.

Because the revenue of television providers is often traceable directly to their performance of the ratings system, it can sometimes be unclear whether the criticisms lodged against Nielsen by various parties are valid, or whether they are using the criticism to represent their own interests. For example, opponents of government funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting argue that viewers intentionally over-report the viewing of PBS. Cable networks - which tend to benefit most from the more accurate and higher audience counts in the off-prime time periods - endorse meter systems. On the other hand, local broadcast affiliates - which tend to rely on local news and prime time audiences (which the diary method overcounts) - criticize the meters.

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 television "diary" 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 a de-facto 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 12.7% of the Nielsen sample, compared to 12.0% in the general population. Latino Households represent 10.7% of the Nielsen sample, compared to 10.0% 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.

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, transport terminals, 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.

Annual top-rated shows
Nielsen began compiling ratings for television beginning in 1950. Prior to that year, television ratings were compiled by a number of other sources, including C. E. Hooper and Variety. Today, Hooper is barely remembered; the company was bought out by Nielsen in February of 1950.

These are the programs that finished with the highest average Nielsen rating in each television season:

1950-1951: Texaco Star Theater (NBC)
1951-1952: Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (CBS)
1952-1953: I Love Lucy (CBS)
1953-1954: I Love Lucy (CBS)
1954-1955: I Love Lucy (CBS)
1955-1956: The $64,000 Question (CBS)
1956-1957: I Love Lucy (CBS)
1957-1958: Gunsmoke (CBS)
1958-1959: Gunsmoke (CBS)
1959-1960: Gunsmoke (CBS)
1960-1961: Gunsmoke (CBS)
1961-1962: Wagon Train (NBC)
1962-1963: The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
1963-1964: The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
1964-1965: Bonanza (NBC)
1965-1966: Bonanza (NBC)
1966-1967: Bonanza (NBC)
1967-1968: The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
1968-1969: Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (NBC)
1969-1970: Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (NBC)
1970-1971: Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC)
1971-1972: All in the Family (CBS)
1972-1973: All in the Family (CBS)
1973-1974: All in the Family (CBS)
1974-1975: All in the Family (CBS)
1975-1976: All in the Family (CBS)
1976-1977: Happy Days (ABC)
1977-1978: Laverne and Shirley (ABC)
1978-1979: Three's Company (ABC)
1979-1980: 60 Minutes (CBS)
1980-1981: Dallas (CBS)
1981-1982: Dallas (CBS)
1982-1983: 60 Minutes (CBS)
1983-1984: Dallas (CBS)
1984-1985: Dynasty (ABC)
1985-1986: The Cosby Show (NBC)
1986-1987: The Cosby Show (NBC)
1987-1988: The Cosby Show (NBC)
1988-1989: The Cosby Show (NBC)
1989-1990: (tie) The Cosby Show (NBC) and Roseanne (ABC)
1990-1991: Cheers (NBC)
1991-1992: 60 Minutes (CBS)
1992-1993: 60 Minutes (CBS)
1993-1994: 60 Minutes (CBS)
1994-1995: Seinfeld (NBC)
1995-1996: ER (NBC)
1996-1997: ER (NBC)
1997-1998: Seinfeld (NBC)
1998-1999: ER (NBC)
1999-2000: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (ABC)
2000-2001: Survivor (CBS)
2001-2002: Friends (NBC)
2002-2003: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
2003-2004: American Idol (FOX)
2004-2005: American Idol (FOX)
2005-2006: American Idol (FOX)
See also List of most-watched television episodes

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Old 06-19-2006, 11:12 PM   #7
Lucy Sky Diamonds
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Not entirely sure how Nielson does it in the US, but here's how BBM Canada (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement) does it in Canada, and we're in the process of merging with Nielson...

There's the diary method, where a household records who watches what in a little diary for one week for every individual over the age of two. They write down the person watching the show, the channel, and the show. When they watch DVR or recorded shit, they are supposed to write down when they actually watch it.

There's the old-fashioned meter method which is being fazed out by both BBM and Nielson. That features a big fat ol' box that you stick on top of your TV and use a remote to select who is watching TV, and that captures an encoded signal in the broadcast that tells Nielson and BBM which individual watched which TV station. The encoded signal just states the channel, the date, and the time, and people watching DVRs and tapes still count.

The new method involves the PPM (Personal People Meter), which is a pager-sized device that members over the age of 2 wear. They are chose as a representative sample of the population based on age number of household members, as well as TV reception. The PPM also decodes the same audio signal (station, time) as the stationary unit, only it can be used for radio ratings as well, and picks up any signal you encounter when you're not at home - sports bar, doctor's waiting room, shopping mall, etc.


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Old 06-20-2006, 12:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Floppy Nono
who's your new icon? it's creeping me out
He's an extremely satisfied gentleman, floppy.

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Old 06-20-2006, 12:53 AM   #9
Floppy Nono
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ahhh...the glory of being easy

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