TV Ratings: Nielsen You’re Old School

What is it that makes network execs decide to keep or cancel a show?  Ratings.  If the ratings aren’t high then potentially the show isn’t getting watch enough and if not enough are watching, advertisers would rather spend their money elsewhere.

Basically, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  We may enjoy the major networks for free, but advertisers foot the bill and if they don’t think they’re reaching enough of us, they pull their money and in turn shows get pulled.

How are these ratings determined?  A company called Nielsen Media Research places boxes in houses or has viewers keep diaries on what they’re watching.  This may have worked 10 years ago, and though Nielsen is making an effort to see what’s recorded on DVR to be watched later, the new generation of TV watchers doesn’t watch like they used to.  Now with streaming video online (often as good as or much better than SD) as well as DVR, the face of viewing has changed.

I think for a lot of us, if ratings were determined on us actually being at home and sitting on our couches watching when the show aired (which they are), a lot of shows would get canceled (and they have been).  I watch Heroes, Fringe, Pushing Daisies, Dexter, and Smallville currently (add 24 and BSG when they’re on).  But due to my schedule, I’m rarely ever present at home when these shows air.  It was either record for later, or my current preferred method, watch it online the next day.

If I had a Nielsen box in my home, ratings contribution would be low.

With the digital age comes the technology to watch everything on demand (at least after the TV premiere), or later on DVD, because that’s the way a lot of us prefer it.  I suppose I bring this up because I know Pushing Daisies hasn’t been doing well as far as Nielsen is concerned, but I know a lot of people who watch it, and those who do are avid fans.

So are the networks even comparing the online numbers?  True, people could be rewatching vids the next day, but looking at the hugely popular Hulu.com doesn’t it click with the execs that we’re hardly the audience who will be sitting down at the time they demand?

We do have to give credit to a part of the online appeal being less commercials, but for me if it came down to having my favorite show canceled and upping the commercial time online, I’d take more commercial time.

Nielsen, currently you are old school.  And networks, the new generation doesn’t want it when you decide to give it to them, they want it when they want it.  I think once they get it, they can start gaining their money another way, and we can keep our shows.

Anyways, keep your fingers crossed for Pushing Daisies.

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