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The W - Random - How much is a Nielsen ratings point?
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CRZ
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Since: 9.12.01
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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.65
I put this here because it's too damn hard to actually FIND when I need it. Also, other people will eventually find this thread through Google and maybe I can save somebody some time down the road - namely, me. ;-)

(From a previous thread, corrected "viewers" to "households.")

In 1998-99, a ratings point was equal to 980,000 households.
In 1999-2000, it was 1,008,000.
In 2000-01, 1,022,000.
And in 2001-02, it was 1,055,000.


2002-03, 1,067,000.
2003-04, 1,084,000.



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geemoney
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Since: 26.1.03
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.92
I've always wondered how accurate Nielsens REALLY are....
Freeway
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Since: 3.1.02
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.96
So, you're saying this:

RAW getting a 3.4 (3.685 million viewers) this year is the same as RAW getting a 3.76 in 1998. So roughly the same number of folks are watching now as compared to when the "boom" started. Swank.



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Since: 2.1.02
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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
I remember cable ratings were different from network ratings in the past ... I also remember reading that they were standardizing them at some point.

According to this, Raw got a 2.7 on Oct. 28, with 2.9 million households watching both hours.

A 2.7? I don't remember reading anything about them breaking the magic 3.0 number, so the change had to have gone though. That's gonna take some getting used to.

Edit: He he he ... I should start a thread in the Wrestling folder shouting "The sky is falling! Raw got a 2.7! Can a 1.9 quarter hour be far behind?" That would get some fun responses. But it would be trolling, and that isn't allowed!




(edited by Gavintzu on 12.11.03 0906)


CRZ
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#5 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.65
The cable universe is smaller than the TV universe, or something. Like, the 2.7 in the ratings you cite is equal to 3.x on the cable scale....I think?

Also, the ones we always see in the wrestling media are overnight numbers and the ones reported later aren't.

Confused? Yep



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PeterStork
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Since: 25.1.02
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.49
    Originally posted by Freeway420
    So, you're saying this:

    RAW getting a 3.4 (3.685 million viewers) this year is the same as RAW getting a 3.76 in 1998. So roughly the same number of folks are watching now as compared to when the "boom" started. Swank.


Remember that households does NOT equal total viewers. Nielsen has a different way of figuring out households versus total viewers (several years ago, CBS won the season in households, but NBC had more viewers, making for an interesting round of press releases in May,) and as much as I know about it I'll be damned if I have a clue what they do to figure the difference.

Of course, no one gives a damn about households or total viewers, since demographics, like 18-49 and especially young males, are what brings in the cheese. That's why a spot on Gilmore Girls costs $100,000 and a commercial in 60 Minutes runs just $88,500. (Via The Futon Critic)

Again, for future clarification purposes, overnights factor in the 55 (57 now? I'm too lazy to check, and they keep adding them) metered markets where people actually have devices attached to their televisions. Fast nationals follow, giving a better idea of what the nation as a whole, not just the big cities, watched. Nationals are released the Wednesday after a week (Monday through Sunday) and are the final numbers.

Yes, cable and broadcast ratings are not directly comparable, nor are premium ratings (which are used only for purposes of bragging, as in "The Sopranos kicked NBC's ass last night and our people have to PAY for the channel.") that, I believe, vary depending on the subscribers you have (again, it's a percentage of who receives the channel.)

P.S. Note the glorious $34,333 per 30 second spot on Smackdown.

(edited by PeterStork on 12.11.03 1341)


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Since: 8.6.02
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.89
I've always wondered if people recording shows is factored in, as I rarely watch anything live-to-air. If I like something, I tend to tape it and watch it later, even immediately after it ends, because I loathe commercials. Smackdown is a classic example, there's just way too damn many commercials.

Also, TiVo and such like, are these viewers monitored in any way?



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marcusb
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Since: 17.11.03
From: Chicago, IL

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#8 Posted on
The interesting thing about Nielsen is that when you break down their methodology, you can begin to see some of the flaws with the system.

Nationally, there are about 5000 Nielsen households that have people meters installed on their sets that collect information about what programs are being watched on that TV set. Each member of that household is asked to "sign in" when they are watching a program so that additional demographic data can be collected. This is done on a daily (nightly) basis. This data is known as "fast nationals" because it is supposed to capture the entire country.

Then there are local meters in the top 55 markets that collect just the just household ratings (not any specific demographic data) for those households. I think they do something like 20,000 or so of these daily. These are known as the "overnights".

There's a whole literature on overnights vs. fast nationals in terms of the value of each and what they each mean. I can get into this if any here desires.

They also send out diaries a couple times a year to all 200+ markets and ask people to record viewing habits for a week. They shoot for a million of these, and this is during sweeps months -- Novebmer, February, May and the so-called "summer sweeps" in July.

Diaries are notoriously inaccurate tools, since they rely on the ability of each diary keeper to accurately recall and record what they watched and when they watched it. This is currently the ONLY widely used method for radio ratings. It's also really hard to get people to send these back in a timely fashion (or at all). That forces them to curve their data to account for certain demographics groups that don't send their dairies back.

The people meters are better, but you're asking approximately 25,000 households to represent over a million households across the country. They work hard to get a representative cross section, but inevitably, it's going to produce anamolies.

In terms of the size of the various universes, here's the info for 2002-2003 ...

Total TV Households: 106.7 million
Women 18+: 108.19 million
Men 18+: 99.02 million
Teens 12-17: 24.84 million

Cable TV Households: 72.111 million

This means that the cable penetration is just over 67% of all TV households. Keeping these two universes straight helps to understand ratings.

A "rating" is a percentage of the universe that is watching a particular program or channel. You can always calculate the total audience size if you know the size of the universe and rating. A "share" is the percentage of Households Using Television (HUT) during a certain period of time. You can't always calculate this number, because HUT is constantly changing as viewers tune in and tune out continuously.

As someone pointed out earlier, it's more about demographics than total audience. Advertisers buy demo's because prodcuts are marketed to specific groups of people. Products that appeal to EVERYONE, typically don't need to advertise.

I've heard that TiVo has some arrangement to send it's viewing data to Nielsen, provided customers give their consent.

I'd be happy to answer any follow-up questions, as this is my field of study and I've spent too many hours staring at Nielsen numbers.




(edited by marcusb on 17.11.03 2113)
Gavintzu
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Since: 2.1.02
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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
marcusb ... awesome first post. Couple of comments ...

I actually like the idea of diaries versus a cable box. When someone is filling out a diary they are filling in what TV shows stick in their heads that they watched (or intended to watch) rather than just what is on the tube when they are making dinner. How often is a TV on when noone is really watching it? Diaries can filter out this, while cable boxes do not. I think half of the people who used to "watch" the dead half-hour between Seinfeld and Friends were either in the kitchen or in the can, but never bothered to turn the TV off.

The other complaint I have about cable boxes is that people are informed that they are Nielsen families. This will skew their viewing habits ... if I got a Nielson box would I view as much Playboy channel as I do now? Well, maybe, but many people wouldn't. If the Nielsens want to be accurate, they need to start infiltrating people's homes and installing their hardware incognito. Then we'll see what people are watching!








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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 9.41
Very interesting.

As background, I work for a nameless cable TV company, but I'm just a database administrator who is not in the know.

Still, I wonder, do cable TV companies provide digital cable information for any of these studies? Satellite companies? I would think that any two way capable medium would have the ability to send back channel watched data to the home base, and I believe both of these are two way capable.

Of course, I never turn my cable box off, so if they do this, they are getting a whole hell of a lot of Discovery channel data or Spike TV if that's the last channel I watch at night.

I've often wondered if this is why the box seems to take longer to change the channel the first time I change it after hours of watching one channel (or the first time I change the channel in the evening after a day of it off).



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marcusb
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Since: 17.11.03
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#11 Posted on
Gavintzu ...

As with any research tool, there are relative strengths and weaknesses in various methods. You've noted what many consider a strength of the diary method.

The thing that needs to be understood is that television ratings exist for the benefit of television advertising buyers and sellers. Whether you are intently focused on watching a program or simply leave the television on as background, advertisers and network sales people want to know what you're watching. Perhaps you are background watching, but look up for ten seconds to see a commercial for a product. If so, then the network sales people want to be able to sell that to the advertisers. The diary approach you've suggested allows viewers to selectively report their viewing habits, which while qualitatively may help programmers and to a certain extent advertisers, it doesn't really achieve the purpose of ratings.

That's why Nielsen has tried to employ multiple methods in their research mix to achieve the highest degree of accuracy possible. Whether they've achieved it or not is up for debate.

Also, you point out another flaw in this kind of research, in that those people who are selected as Nielsen families are self-aware of their status and may alter thir behavior because of this. They are discouraged from doing so, but it's unavoidable. I had a friend in college who was in a Nielsen household and he said that his parents left the TV tuned to C-SPAN and PBS for long stretches in an effort to skew the results.

As for Guru Zim's point about cable companies being able to track viewing habits, the technology exists, but there are methodological flaws and privacy issues at work. I don't doubt that it will someday happen, but it's not currently being done.

With the rise of TiVos and other DVR/PVR devices, I think Nielsen will be forced to partner with cable companies and other groups to mine this data. TiVo is already able to report things like which SuperBowl commercial was rewound the most this year and which plays were rewound most often during the game.

Nielsen has long been working on devices that viewers would wear on their belts like a pager or cell phone that would passively collect viewing data by interacting with a set-top box and transmitting who was in the room watching TV, etc.

Hope all that helps ...

marcusb
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