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Nielsen Families and Other Rating Systems


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#1

BanjoSteve

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 6:52 PM

I just found out my family is going to become a Nielsen family. Not a regular one, though. We have TiVo and they're doing a study on how TiVo affects viewing habits, or something. Anyway, anyone have any shows they want us to start watching in hopes that we'll boost the ratings? And does anyone have any stories about being a Nielsen family?

#2

Cress

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 9:14 PM

Do you watch Arrested Development on Sunday nights? It won't be back until November 7, because of baseball on Fox, but it will be right after the Simpsons.

#3

cuiusquemodi

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 9:31 PM

Isn't the Nielsen thing supposed to be confidental? Wouldn't our influence prove an extraneous variable?

#4

Glark

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 9:34 PM

Just leave it on PAX 24/7. That'll fuck everything up.

Let's make this a general Neilsen/rating systems thread.

#5

joanne3482

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 10:22 PM

Isn't the Nielsen thing supposed to be confidental? Wouldn't our influence prove an extraneous variable?


Well yes, that could mess it up, BUT if it means even a remote possibility that a good show (Veronica Mars, Desperate Housewives) will be kept and we will lose some of the Fear Factor, My Big Fat Obnoxious blahblahblah, So I married an ax murderer (oh wait that was a movie not a new reality show on Fox), and other reality crap... I'm all for it.

I was a Nielson family when I lived in AK, before the popularity of computers so we were reporting on paper and the instructions said that I could include what close friends were watching. Isn't TWOP just a bigger network of friends?

#6

Hannibal Khan

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Posted Oct 18, 2004 @ 10:40 PM

Personally I hate the Nielson Markets.... which means that you're stuck watching the broadcasts of your local area. Personally I don't give a fuck about Chattanooga news... luckily DirectTV hooked me up with distance broadcasts.

#7

PhantomChic

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 12:06 AM

So I married an ax murderer (oh wait that was a movie not a new reality show on Fox)

Give them time.

Do they have you logging what you watch or are they monitoring your TiVo directly to see what you watch and record?

Sorry, Glark

Edited by PhantomChic, Oct 19, 2004 @ 12:48 AM.


#8

Glark

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 12:42 AM

Ok, let's not actually turn this into "please watch this, Neilsen families". If there's a conversation to be had about rating systems let's have it.

#9

Jessba

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 2:45 AM

How did you get chosen to be a Nielsen family? I've always wondered how people were chosen to be a part of the ratings system. I'm in Canada so I don't even know if it applies here but I think it would be interesting to be a part of. I'd assume they'd want a bit of a range of people to collect data from, do they get info from cable companies or do you sign up or...?

#10

beezer

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 2:57 AM

I believe it's a totally random sample that they approach and ask to participate for the classic Nielsen ratings system, otherwise it wouldn't be really kosher to extrapolate the sampling data to the nation as a whole.

#11

BanjoSteve

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 8:41 AM

Do they have you logging what you watch or are they monitoring your TiVo directly to see what you watch and record?


They haven't explained the details yet, so I don't know. I think they'll just monitor the TiVo, but from what I've heard, they also need to know who's watching what, so maybe they'll use a combination. Of course, maybe they'll just put in some software so that every half hour or so we just input it into the TV via remote. Technology these days makes it quite handy. Though I don't like the idea that someone somewhere could just flip a switch and know what I'm watching on the TiVo.

Anyway, I don't think it's a normal study that will affect real ratings. I think it's more about how TiVo affects our viewership. Which I find interesting. I always wondered when they would start worrying about that. After all, advertisers can't be too happy about it. Nevertheless, if the show is good enough, I'll watch it live anyway and not wait for it to tape. Lost is a prime example of this.

#12

formergr

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 9:30 AM

I've been invited to be part of the same thing. I think they are going to measure our viewership with traditional Nielsen methods, and then use the Tivo to measure what we actually watch. That way they can compare, and perhaps eventually change their measuring methods.

I think there is a wealth of data to be found with the TiVo, not just in what we actually watch, but what we Season Pass, record and then don't watch, thumbs up/down, etc. The only problem is that since TiVo's are an added cost, using only them to measure viewership won't be demographically representative of the whole country. More $ frequently (not always, I'm talking in marketing world) means higher educated, so these viewers would perhaps watch different programs than the "average" viewer.

#13

Beelzebubba

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 10:17 AM

I just applied for this through TiVo as well. I'm hoping....

#14

joanne3482

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 10:43 AM

When I was one, I ended up getting signed up through a phone survey. I didn't even have cable at the time, just 5 channels: a very local religious channel, PBS, NBC, a CBS/ABC combination and Fox all thanks to bunny ears (this was the mid 90's and I was just out of college). I informed the person of that and it didn't matter. I was just one plucked at random. They sent me either a dollar or 2 dollars to thank me for my time. I remember that being fairly funny to me.

#15

Princess Fred

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 11:17 AM

Yeah, I was part of one of those local ratings things (Arbitron, I think) for a while, too. The nice, crisp, new one-dollar bill that came in the mail every couple of months really cracked me up. Ooh, boy, free gum this week, courtesy of Arbitron!

#16

beltempest

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 11:38 AM

We were a Nielsen family for about a week back in the 80s. We got a booklet in the mail that we had to fill out and each member of the family got a column. We had to log who was watching what and when. I got to be keeper of the log. It wasn't really that interesting, but when we got the quarter in the mail as our thank you, well that just made it totally worthwhile. :)

#17

sasharama

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 11:57 AM

I just got chosen yesterday at random. They said it would only be for a week, though. I'm hoping it gets stretched out so I can give credit to my favorite shows. Since I don't have Tivo (though I just ordered a DVR, actually), I think I have to write things down in a book. I'm really looking forward to it.

#18

indybear

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 12:42 PM

Hi, sasha!

I'm doing the Nielsen diary thing now, and while it's exciting at first - Oh cool, I can influence America's viewing habits! - by the 6th of 7 days, it gets to be a kind of a pain. We have 3 TVs, so I have to keep a diary for each one.

#19

iMissEthan

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 1:51 PM

Please mark down Life as We Know It Thursdays 9-10 and Jack & Bobby Sundays 9-10. They need your help.

Sorry Glark, I thought this was an old thread and just read the last page.
I hope they extend the survey to DVR users instead of just using TiVo. I'd love to participate.

Edited by iMissEthan, Oct 19, 2004 @ 1:53 PM.


#20

foultemptress

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 2:30 PM

I did the diary for a week a few years ago and got a dollar for my efforts! I admit, though, that I altered my t.v.-viewing slightly that week because I was embarassed to admit to watching a few shows.

Which reminds me of the time on Roseanne where they were picked to be a Neilsen family with a box on their t.v. to monitor what they were watching all of the time. Roseanne was making every watch educational shows the whole time they had the box.

#21

mtvcdm

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 4:25 PM

So about how many households get picked per week? Just so I can figure my odds of, sometime during my life, being able to call up TV execs selected at random, screaming in a deep booming voice: "DANCE! FOR I CONTROL YOUR VERY EXISTENCE, MORTAL! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!", then hanging up. (I would totally do this and worry about the insane phone bill later.)

#22

tonkacat

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 4:56 PM

I was selected back in 1985. I pretended I didn't work so I could list all the shows I liked from 7 am to midnight.

#23

joanne3482

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 6:16 PM

How do the networks get such immediate ratings results? How do they know that Friends, for example, had 4.9 million viewers last Thursday (or whatever)? I realize with the increased computer use that Nielsen families can go online almost instantly and update what they just watched, but are there other rating systems? (As the thread implies). I remember the 'box' episode on Roseanne. Do they do that still or did they ever REALLY do that?

#24

janbrady

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 6:26 PM

We were a Nielsen family for about a week back in the 80s. We got a booklet in the mail that we had to fill out and each member of the family got a column.


My grandma got the same booklet at somepoint in the mid to late 90s. I got to see her booklet (she was very serious and dedicated about recording her viewing habits accurately), and I couldn't help but chuckle at her shows. She had Murder She Wrote written in for like 10 hours that week! She also had Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune marked everyday too. I'm sure she skewed some results somewhere!

#25

Kev

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 7:57 PM

I think many people agree that the Nielsen system is flawed, but what could be the alternatives? Built in monitoring systems on TVs? What would be the best way to get a truly representative sampling of the viewing habits of American TV viewers?

Edited by Kev, Oct 19, 2004 @ 7:58 PM.


#26

mtvcdm

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 10:19 PM

I think what could be done in the future (this could be done now, might be years before we're able to, no idea, just tossing out an idea) is TV's made from a certain point on would be fitted with a device that records what gets watched, when, and for how long. That information is then transmitted to either the Nielsen people or the FCC, and acted on accordingly.

#27

LittleSable

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Posted Oct 19, 2004 @ 10:22 PM

TV's made from a certain point on would be fitted with a device that records what gets watched, when, and for how long. That information is then transmitted to either the Nielsen people or the FCC, and acted on accordingly.


Ugh. As long as there was a way to disable it, maybe. But otherwise that is scary shades of 1984. Especially if sent to the FCC.

Edited by LittleSable, Oct 19, 2004 @ 10:25 PM.


#28

Lila

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Posted Oct 20, 2004 @ 6:39 AM

joanne -- Here's Nielsen's summary of how ratings data are collected. They still use the "people meter" boxes, in addition to other methods, yes.

mtvcdm -- The existing people meters do pretty much track what's on and for how long. The tricky part is knowing who is watching, or if anyone is. A TV that's left on for the cats looks the same as a TV in a room filled with people watching attentively. That's why they still use the paper diaries, and have tried various versions of the meters that ask people to enter more information about who exactly is watching (described in the link above). But all of that puts a greater burden on the viewer, which means it's harder to get people to do it, and there's more room for error.

#29

formergr

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Posted Oct 20, 2004 @ 11:32 AM

And again leads to skewed results, since a viewer willing to put in that extra effort is arguably demographically different than the average viewer.

Edited by formergr, Oct 20, 2004 @ 11:32 AM.


#30

beezer

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Posted Oct 20, 2004 @ 1:57 PM

I don't think it's possible to say that unless there's information that an average viewer wouldn't do it. Personally, I think they would, but we can't know for sure.