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Television Entertainment

The Nielsen Family Is Dead 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the radio-star's-family-suspected-in-revenge-plot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article at Wired walks us through how the so-called Nielsen Family, responsible for deciding which shows were good and which were flops since the '70s, isn't the be-all, end-all of TV popularity anymore. Quoting: 'Over the years, the Nielsen rating has been tweaked, but it still serves one fundamental purpose: to gauge how many people are watching a given show on a conventional television set. But that's not how we watch any more. Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Roku, iTunes, smartphone, tablet—none of these platforms or devices are reflected in the Nielsen rating. (In February Nielsen announced that this fall it would finally begin including Internet streaming to TV sets in its ratings.) And the TV experience doesn't stop when the episode ends. We watch with tablets on our laps so we can look up an actor's IMDb page. We tweet about the latest plot twist (discreetly, to avoid spoilers). We fill up the comments section of our favorite online recappers. We kibitz with Facebook friends about Hannah Horvath's latest paramour. We start Tumblrs devoted to Downton decor. We're engaging with a show even if we aren't watching it, but none of this behavior factors into Nielsen's calculation of its impact.'"
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The Nielsen Family Is Dead

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @02:28AM (#43221231)

    I look at the pirate sites to see what's popular on TV. That's a truer reflection of what the general public wants to watch, because the seed and leech count isn't some complex proprietary formula. While fakes do pop up, with companies trying to poison the peer population to discourage downloading, the protocol is self-correcting and it is really just further evidence of its popularity. It represents an intentional and willful effort to watch these shows, not just a casual interest because it feels less lonely than leaving the TV on to blare commercials while you do something else. If you want to know which shows are popular, not just locally, but internationally then torrent sites are really the best measure of a show's actual popularity. And it's not limited to TV either; A movie's true popularity is also reflected in the download count, moreso than an imdb rating.

    You can't trust for-profit organizations to give fair an unbiased numbers -- for enough money, they're only too happy to rig the system. There's companies whose sole reason for existance is to push books onto the New York Times' best seller lists. Because sales data and other information is all kept hidden behind a wall of corporate proprietary data, it's possible to rig the system.

    The pirates... you can't rig the system. Either it's popular, or it isn't. No games, no bullshit.

    • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @02:43AM (#43221281) Homepage Journal

      I look at the pirate sites to see what's popular on TV. That's a truer reflection of what the general public wants to watch, because the seed and leech count isn't some complex proprietary formula.

      The demographic that gets/views torrents is skewed towards the technologically minded. Contrary to the prevailing slashdot wisdom, this site is not 'the general public'. Sure, the actual general public is closer to the slashdot demo than, say, 15 years ago, but they are not identical.

      The problem with pirate sites is monetization. Let's suppose that the number of downloads of Game of Thrones from The Pirate Bay is the most accurate assessment of its popularity. Further, let's posit that 90% of the views come from that. Why does it matter to HBO? How do they recoup the development costs from a TPB viewer? And it matters not whether it is HBO, A&E, or NBC. Someone has to pay actors, writers, directors, etc. Until there is a better method of determining paying customers/viewers, there is still some relevance to traditional ratings. How much and to what degree, we can argue (well, you can. I'm not interested in those minutiae).

      So yes, the viewership through pirate sites is interesting for help in determining popularity, but not necessarily in determining what gets made. The reign of 'non-scripted' shows as an example, is as much due to decreased costs of production (especially avoiding the WGA and DGA) at least as much, if not more than how popular they are.

      • The problem with pirate sites is monetization. Let's suppose that the number of downloads of Game of Thrones from The Pirate Bay is the most accurate assessment of its popularity. Further, let's posit that 90% of the views come from that. Why does it matter to HBO? How do they recoup the development costs from a TPB viewer?

        HBO now have strong evidence supporting the immense popularity of the show. This allows them to sell broadcasting rights, merchandising rights and gives them an enormous amount of free publicity in new and emerging markets.

        Sure 'Castle' has a much higher Nielsen rating but how many people would seriously buy a $50 Castle poster to hang on their wall or buy a Collectors Edition Richard Castle figurine.

        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          The only evidence they have is that the show is popular with a demographic that isn't making them any money.
          If anything, it's reason to terminate the show and replace it with something that attracts non-downloading viewers.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Except that is by no means the only evidence they have. You are trying to pretend that the only metrics that exist are the piracy numbers and that such an obvious lie that it's almost not even worth rebutting.

            The idea that you can't make any money off of pirates is just something you have decided to take as an article of faith.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            The basis of the Nielsen system was that a representative group would convey the viewing habits of all customers.

            What they're saying is that the Pirate Bay downloads are a good measure of what's popular - among both downloaders and paying customers.

            Also, don't forget that there is overlap between the two groups. I download virtually every episode of Game of Thrones from TPB. I also maintain an HBO subscription. The reasoning is simple - I like to watch the show when it broadcasts but I also will rewatch

        • by Macgrrl (762836)

          They may not have sold many $50 Castle posters, but there have been 4 NYT Bestseller novels that have spun off from the series, a couple of graphic novels, etc... So they have certainly expanded the market beyond purely the TV show and the advertising scheduled around it.

          BTW the Richard Castle novels have been a pretty good read for a ghost written novel that loosely echoes a TV series. I quite enjoy seeing the parody characters interact like shadow puppets of their 'Real Life' counterparts.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:39AM (#43221477)

        The demographic that gets/views torrents is skewed towards the technologically minded.

        Then explain to me the popularity of Jersey Shore on the Pirate Bay.

        Contrary to the prevailing slashdot wisdom, this site is not 'the general public'.

        I'm sorry, you make me choke on my mountain dew. Slashdot? Wisdom? I think you have this site confused for another. And besides, we weren't talking about slashdot, we were talking about The Pirate Bay, which is the 73rd most visited site on the internet according to Alexia. But please, continue...

        The problem with pirate sites is monetization.

        Okay, just so we're clear: You're saying a website whose primary purpose is to allow the free distribution of copyrighted materials has a problem with monetization?

        Let's suppose that the number of downloads of Game of Thrones from The Pirate Bay is the most accurate assessment of its popularity. Further, let's posit that 90% of the views come from that. Why does it matter to HBO?

        I'm sorry, I thought we were talking about accurately assessing the popularity of a show, which is what Nielsen ratings are supposed to do. I wasn't aware that this had anything to do with the price of tea in China... or the price of an HBO subscription for that matter.

        Someone has to pay actors, writers, directors, etc.

        Again, and that has what to do with the price of tea in China? We're looking at methods of assessing the popularity of a show, and the pros and cons of each method. Who writes the paycheck out to those people has exactly dick to do with that.

        Until there is a better method of determining paying customers/viewers, there is still some relevance to traditional ratings.

        Ah. So you're moving the goal posts. Well, allow me to move them back. Let's say you're in the market for a new car. New car by definition means you're going to be buying from a dealer, or from the manufacturer. So the market for used cars is therefore totally irrelevant, right? Wrong. Even though you're going to a different seller, the laws of supply and demand apply equally to both, and the reasons people buy a used car are similar to the reasons they buy a new car. So if a car has a strong value on the used car market, it's going to have an impact on the price, and popularity, of the new car market as well. Whether the customers are paying or not may matter to the producers of the show, but it has little or no impact on whether or not the viewing public wants to watch the show. And I'm willing to bet that if 10% of Game of Thrones is pirated, then about 10% of NCIS is going to be pirated too, even though they're different shows. And if NCIS is more popular than Game of Thrones amongst the non-paying customers, it's probably going to be more popular amongst the paying customers as well because they're the same demographic.

        So yes, the viewership through pirate sites is interesting for help in determining popularity, but not necessarily in determining what gets made.

        Whoa there cowboy. Again: China. Tea. Price of. We aren't discussing the criterion for how TV shows get selected for production, we're discussing the pros and cons of a ratings system for shows that are already in production.

        • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @04:17AM (#43221617) Homepage

          The demographic that gets/views torrents is skewed towards the technologically minded.

          Then explain to me the popularity of Jersey Shore on the Pirate Bay.

          Most popular Jersey Shore episode on TPB: s06e13 with 104 seeds and 4 leeches.
          Most popular Big Bang Theory: s06e19 with 19202 seeds and 538 leeches.
          There... "popularity" of Jersey Shore on TPB explained.

          • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @04:52AM (#43221715)

            There... "popularity" of Jersey Shore on TPB explained.

            Last airing of Jersey Shore: December 7, 2012
            Last airing of Big Bang: Today.

            I think I see a flaw in your cunning assessment. If you look for a single episode of Big Bang uploaded on or before the same date, you get about the same count: 128 seeds, 2 leeches, respectively. When Jersey Shore isn't on its off-season, those numbers will be a lot higher. But I can't fault you for not knowing that torrents of TV shows tend to be most popular when first released, and then quickly drop in both seed and leech count... I mean, it's not something the average person would know.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            OK, now explain to me the popularity of the Big Bang Theory?

            • Explain Beethoven. Explain red velvet cupcakes. Explain Batman.

              If these things were explainable, then the content producers would just crank the formula and produce popular content. We wouldn't need to have a popularity measuring stick like the Nielsen ratings. However, when they try to crank the formula we get shows like "Swamp Pickers" and "Ice Road Idol".
              • by Hatta (162192)

                Explain Beethoven. Explain red velvet cupcakes. Explain Batman.

                Those things are good. Their popularity doesn't need an explanation.

          • I dont care for ether of them, but my wife and daughter love them both. Nether of them is "Technical" but both of them are capable of and do download the torrents for those shows as well as a show that I think is called "Once upon a time" but I could be wrong on the name.

            I however am technical, and I throttle there torrent connections so I can get AMC's Walking Dead faster. :P

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              I find it rather amazing that anyone considers downloading something to be a terribly technical task. You may need to be somewhat "technical" to be aware of the idea but even that can be explained away by things like Google.

              The current technological apparatus is specifically designed to spread information. This includes things like "news" as well as things like "files". N00b friendly interfaces are also very well established so you hardly need to have a CS degree to either be aware of or use torrents.

              I susp

        • The demographic that gets/views torrents is skewed towards the technologically minded.

          Then explain to me the popularity of Jersey Shore on the Pirate Bay.

          The bias is not towards technologically minded people (what is this 1998?), it's towards people who use the Internet, i.e., everyone under 30. The Boomers are not likely to download torrents because they grew up with TV sets and, by and large, aren't very tech savvy. They might get DVDs of Mad Men through Netflix, but that's about it. Someone born in 1994 grew up with the Internet and is much more likely to be sitting in a dorm room downloading TV shows. (And we all know that young people have terrible tast

          • The bias is not towards technologically minded people (what is this 1998?), it's towards people who use the Internet, i.e., everyone under 30. The Boomers are not likely to download torrents because they grew up with TV sets and, by and large, aren't very tech savvy.

            30? 30???? Come on, boomers are over 50 now. Hell I am over 40 and am of the generation that started with home computers. You need to update your timeline, people born after 1970 are very computer savvy (they are not boomers) and many born after 1965 are as well. Once you get beyond that the number begin to sharply drop off.

            • by jedidiah (1196)

              The Republicans found this very thing to be a problem in the last election. They used to be the party of middle aged white males. Now they are the party of senior citizens. Their base remained the same over the course of a couple of decades where that base just got older.

              In the meantime, the nature of middle aged white males changed as tech and social values shifted.

              Boomers are over 60 now.

            • I think you misunderstood; everyone under 30 uses the Internet because they grew up with it--obviously there are people over 30 on the Internet (us, for example). Boomers don't download TV shows--though they may use computers--because they didn't grow up with the Internet. And yes, Boomers are old folks now. As a younger member of Gen X (who does not work in IT), I can tell you that the vast majority of my peers are computer illiterate, don't know how to type, and never had a computer at home growing up (n

      • And there is where yield management rears it's nasty head.

        HBO could make 100 million selling their service at lower rates and have a much larger audience. But they can make 101 million selling their service at a higher price and have a smaller audience. And really the best point is where they make 111 million in profits but only have 55% the audience.

        Which means 45% of their potential customers are going to be working hard to get the content because they can't afford HBO's product. Some go to pirating...

      • by jxander (2605655)

        The demographic that gets/views torrents is skewed towards the technologically minded. Contrary to the prevailing slashdot wisdom, this site is not 'the general public'.

        However, for reasons that should be apparent, it's a demographic that matters to me.

        The problem with pirate sites is monetization. Let's suppose that the number of downloads of Game of Thrones from The Pirate Bay is the most accurate assessment of its popularity. Further, let's posit that 90% of the views come from that. Why does it matter to HBO? How do they recoup the development costs from a TPB viewer? And it matters not whether it is HBO, A&E, or NBC. Someone has to pay actors, writers, directors, etc. Until there is a better method of determining paying customers/viewers, there is still some relevance to traditional ratings. How much and to what degree, we can argue (well, you can. I'm not interested in those minutiae).

        The CEOs and Big Wigs at HBO (and every other network) get paid millions of dollars to come up with solutions to this problem. It's easy enough for them to look at TPB or whatever else and see what's popular. But so far, the best these 6 and 7 figure geniuses have come up for monetizing runs the gamut between "just ignore it and maybe it will go away," and "bludgeon everyone who disagrees with our decades old methods."

        He

        • by Macgrrl (762836)

          No chance of a failed download, no accidentally grabbing the German version, no screwed up subtitles.

          I spent part of the last week or so exchanging emails with Apple support trying to tell them that quite a few books on the Australian iBooks store were only available in German/Polish/Spanish/Italian and that I suspect it's in error. They keep sending me messages back saying if I want to request new titles I should use the Suggestion form in the iTunes application/website. :(

          • by jxander (2605655)

            Am I correct in assuming these books you were looking for are rather obscure? Something tells me iBook will have the Harry Potters, Twilights, etc in just about every language.

            Second question: are these books available via pirate sites in the language(s) you want? (and feel free to not answer for self-incrimination reasons, but just something to ponder)

            If they're not available through either avenue, which one do you suspect will remedy that problem first? My money is on Apple. Their customer support m

            • by Macgrrl (762836)

              They were all best selling novelists, predominately in the crime genre such as Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs, Richard Castle, Charlaine Harris, so not particularly obscure.

              They are absolutely available through pirate channels, but I was trying to be supportive of the authors and obtain through legitimate channels first if possible.

              The bit I couldn't get through to the support person was the english language versions were not available and Australia is an english speaking country. I think they've confused us w

    • by skine (1524819)

      Of course, the moment that the industry decides that it is useful, it will cease to be useful.

      Hulu might make a bit of sense to use, since it's people actively seeking and watching content. The biggest issue I see would be availability.

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:01AM (#43221347)

      Nielsen has one and only purpose - to help price ad-time buys. Shows on bittorrent have had the ads stripped out. The people watching those versions might as well not exist for all that Nielsen's customers care.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @08:04AM (#43222389) Homepage

        They should care about them because they are potential customers. Sure, some will never pay, but some would if the same media was available for a reasonable price. No ads, no DRM, just a high quality MKV for say 50 cents (Euro/US).

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          There are any number of things that HBO could do to better exploit a poorly served market. Piracy is just the tip of the iceberg. It's just the most visible aspect of the interest in their show beyond people who already subscribe to HBO.

          Payment avoidance isn't just limited to piracy and HBO could capture more revenue by presenting options to people willing to wait for Netflix, A&E, or broadcast channels.

      • Nielsen has one and only purpose - to help price ad-time buys.

        Of course. Broadcasters aren't in the business of providing entertainment to people. They are in the business of selling people's attention to advertisers.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Nielsen has one and only purpose - to help price ad-time buys. Shows on bittorrent have had the ads stripped out. The people watching those versions might as well not exist for all that Nielsen's customers care.

        Exactly. Neilson is NOT about popularity of TV shows. Popularity does NOT have one iota of relevance to TV execs. Ad time buys do.

        For example - CBS "wins" Tuesday nights with NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles, which routinely pull in anywhere from 15-20M viewers per episode. Which on Tuesday nights, usually

    • do you really think torrenters are a representative sample of the general population ?

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      So basically any TV show that doesn't target the 20-40yo white nerd male demographic isn't popular?

    • by nblender (741424)

      Pirate sites show you what's popular on TV with the average user who is knowledgeable enough to know how to pirate TV shows; or their girlfriends/wives. It doesn't tell you what the general public wants to watch. None of my son's grandparents/aunts/uncles would fall into that category. My plumber wouldn't; my finish carpenter wouldn't, my drywaller doesn't even have e-mail, my friend the lawyer is also right-out, my doctor is not represented... Many people are not represented in your statistics... On t

    • The data on pirate sites tends to reflect a target demographic that pirates movies, which may be ineffective if you're attempting to sell ads.

      Also, some shows don't show up on Hulu, or netflix... so many networks have their own websites, like cbs shows are on their own network website cbs.com, which Hulu will point to, but really is not a reflection of the viewership. Hulu really gets nothing for pointing to their site, other than an indication that people are searching for the show. Some Shows have sites d

    • Except just like all statistical models, it is not the entire population.
      And in fact, we know it is just one particular part of it. Yes it is a far bigger sample size, but who is to say that tech savvy pirates are at all a good indicator of what everyone else is watching.

    • by isorox (205688) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @08:33AM (#43222585) Homepage Journal

      I look at the pirate sites to see what's popular on TV. That's a truer reflection of what the general public wants to watch, because the seed and leech count isn't some complex proprietary formula. While fakes do pop up, with companies trying to poison the peer population to discourage downloading, the protocol is self-correcting and it is really just further evidence of its popularity. It represents an intentional and willful effort to watch these shows, not just a casual interest because it feels less lonely than leaving the TV on to blare commercials while you do something else. If you want to know which shows are popular, not just locally, but internationally then torrent sites are really the best measure of a show's actual popularity. And it's not limited to TV either; A movie's true popularity is also reflected in the download count, moreso than an imdb rating.

      You can't trust for-profit organizations to give fair an unbiased numbers -- for enough money, they're only too happy to rig the system. There's companies whose sole reason for existance is to push books onto the New York Times' best seller lists. Because sales data and other information is all kept hidden behind a wall of corporate proprietary data, it's possible to rig the system.

      The pirates... you can't rig the system. Either it's popular, or it isn't. No games, no bullshit.

      You're making the assumption that torrents are downloaded by a representative sample of the global audience. It's not, it's skewed towards "geeks"

      However neilson doesn't care about how many people watch a given tv show, they care about how many watch the adverts.

      Like it or not, American idol and the like attract a large number of viewers. These people watch it live as braindead tv, and therefore watch adverts.

      People time shifting, which I'd guess is how most people watch quality tv, will skip the adverts. People downloading never even see the adverts.

      This is a problem for networks that rely on advertising

    • I look at the pirate sites to see what's popular on TV.

      Not for long. With the new " 'six strikes' anti-piracy system", presumably these numbers will drop as ISPs start warning/banning users who download copyright content, which includes shows, movies, music, etc.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      You can pick what is popular to a specific demographic - technically literate time shifters who may or may not be prepared to pay for content. You probably won't find a lot of "Celebrity Diving" popping up in the torrent feeds.

      The Neilsen rating are largely used to assess the value to advertising blocks - which is what drives the price networks are prepared to pay to run a given show in a given timeslot which in turn affects whether the producers think it's worthwhile to continue making the show.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @02:30AM (#43221241) Journal
    Off an on for years, single parents I guess is a demographic they care about but they make it VERY clear that it is NOT just OTA TV anymore. if you are playing games, watching YouTube, whatever? They want you to fill that in. I even told them last time they asked me "You DO know I don't even watch OTA TV anymore? that everything I enjoy is online?" and they said "That's fine, just write down at the bottom of the page what you were doing instead of OTA TV" and I guess it made them happy as I was asked to do it again about 6 months ago.
    • by Technician (215283) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @06:53AM (#43222105)

      Neilson has stagnated along with Buggy Whip manufactures. Most of the posts here are in regards to Static TV which is dying. We still consume media and this created a vacuum. This is being rapidly filled by a competitor. -- Arbitron. Listen to MP3's.. they want to know. Listen to a radio at work? they want to know. Listen to the traffic report in your car on your commute? they want to know.

      Now I carry a pager type device to listen to the encoded audio in broadcasts.. even if it is from a torrent, youtube, MP3, OTA, Cable..

      http://www.arbitron.com/about/home.htm [arbitron.com]

      And yes they pay you to carry the meter all day if you are in a test market. I expect them to continue to expand.

      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        Several years ago I did an Arbitron radio survey. The logbook was a pain to fill out and not worth the time and effort. I completed it one time and then a few months later they sent me another one. It went in the trash, along with the follow up reminders. All the radio I listened to anyway was maybe 15 minute of NPR in the morning on the way to work and 15 on the way home. At least half the time though, were MP3s in the car.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Uhhh...how EXACTLY is that informative? How is that ANY different than Nielsen, who as I said made it VERY clear they wanted to know whatever I was doing, be it listening to MP3s or playing Borderlands or whatever?

        The only thing I'd say they are behind the times on is they layout of the books, if it were me I'd send the paper book and a spreadsheet or word doc that you can just fill in the blank. Oh and they need to have larger blanks for non traditional shows....that's it, that is all I can think of to

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @02:31AM (#43221245) Homepage

    These days Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, etc. know not only if you watched a show, but how many times you watched it, where you paused, which parts you re-watched, etc. (FYI, hook up Wireshark or Firefox's web console and see for yourself what information is being logged!)

    The quantity and quality of the data is better than ever. As more people switch from broadcast and cable to online streaming, why would you need a random sample like the "Nielsen family"? It seems so blunt compared to the accurate real-time data that streaming services can provide.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      Someone needs to tell Fox about this stuff, so they'll stop canceling all the good shows in favor of more unreality garbage.

    • The quantity and quality of the data is better than ever. As more people switch from broadcast and cable to online streaming, why would you need a random sample like the "Nielsen family"?

      The digital cable set-top boxes and/or cable-cards must be able to report the same data, no?

      I love streaming, and, Jesus, do my friends on Facebook bitch and moan about "their shows" (it's useless during a Superbowl or Academy Awards), but how can the sheer volume of digital cable(/FIOS) boxes not already offer supremely be

  • by blarkon (1712194) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:07AM (#43221359)
    For something to be made, there needs to be a measurable minimum viable audience. If the audience can't be measured, it doesn't count. If you're using advertising to fund the production, you've got to hit a certain number of eyeballs in a certain short period. SyFy seemed to have hit this problem with Eureka and Stargate Universe. People were watching - but not enough to cover the costs of making it. So while we might be getting a great variety and diversity of content - that very diversity is fragmenting the audience so much that a lot of stuff becomes financially unviable. The Neilsen Family provided stifling homogeneity, but it also did sustain a standard of TV production that will be difficult to replicate in a future of fragmented micro-audiences.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:14AM (#43221373)

    At first I thought this was another American gun massacre story.

  • But I know that Nielsen actually asks for this kind of information. If you're watching something on Hulu they want to know.

  • no, it's not dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @03:59AM (#43221555)

    That's dumb. The main value of Nielsen is not that it measures popularity. It measures viewership of the shows (and thus ads) that air on TV.

    Ad rates are tied to Nielsen ratings. And this has not changed. So the Nielsen family is as relevant as ever.

    Sure, Hulu stats matter too, to fix the price of ads that air on Hulu.

    It's amazing how many people think that somehow because they don't watch TV that it is not longer relevant what TV ratings are.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      you completely missed hte oint of the article. it's saying that the neilsen is dead precisely because it cant accurately measure the viewership of shows. not when people are watching them on Hulu (who shows pretty much the same adds the broadcast station does BTW, including for the same two bit hot dog shop), or Tivo, or on an HTPC, or simply downloading them.

      "TV" is o longer just the broadcast signal. Yet that is still the only metric Nielsen actually measures for viewership, completely ignoring all the re

  • ...but the rest of his relatives as well?

  • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @05:00AM (#43221729)
    I think this article, and probably many of the comments, shows how little people understand of how the ratings and broadcast networks' business model works.

    The "family" has been dead for years, ratings-wise. The only numbers that count -- at all -- are adults 18-49, and within that group women 18-34 are particularly valued. That's why singing and dancing competitions rule the airwaves. If you are under 18 or older than 49 your TV viewing habits do not matter to advertisers, they do not matter to networks. An 100 million kids could watch a prime time TV show, and it will still get canceled if not enough adults are watching.

    Why? Because TV networks do not have viewers as customers, it's the advertisers that pay their bills. And the advertisers have decided that those are the only age ranges worth selling to, on prime-time TV.

    Online, DVD sales, international sales do NOT bring any revenue whatsoever to TV networks, and no matter how popular a show is off of a US TV set, it is worthless if it does not have an high rating in the key demo. Unless -- and only, unless -- the Network is also the production company for that show. (but most are not) Production companies do make money from DVDs online purchases, rights and online ads -- so a company (such as amazon or Hulu) can bypass the Networks and produce successfully online, as is now happening.

    I do disagree with the advertisers age ranges, and feel they could monetize the younger and older audiences as well. But I do also understand why they feel they can reach these audiences easily without any need to pay for expensive TV ads.

    We are probably reaching a transition point in TV viewing anyway. A business model like the MLB.TV model is one that probably works best. A worldwide 24/7 online TV channel paid for by subscription and/or advertising. It provides full demographic info in real time, allows one-click purchasing to firms, and it allows for long-tail and niche programming too. That is a much better model for advertisers and viewers -- but not too good for the network middlemen, unless they jump on that bandwagon right now.

    As an aside, similar is true for movies -- which have a totally different demographic (12-24 usually). Long, long gone are movies like "The Sand Pebbles". Why? Because adults do not go to the cinema in sufficient numbers to matter, unless they are taking their kids to see a kids movie. There is very little overlap between TV and movies in terms of significant audience. Movies are only for children, and TV is only for adults these days (and female adults mostly too, since men are easy targets through sports).
    • The "family" has been dead for years, ratings-wise. The only numbers that count -- at all -- are adults 18-49, and within that group women 18-34 are particularly valued. That's why singing and dancing competitions rule the airwaves. If you are under 18 or older than 49 your TV viewing habits do not matter to advertisers, they do not matter to networks. An 100 million kids could watch a prime time TV show, and it will still get canceled if not enough adults are watching.

      You seem unaware that there's much mor

    • by Piata (927858)
      If adults don't go to the cinema in sufficient numbers to matter, how did a R rated film like Django Unchained make $400 million? I'd say that's a pretty good pay day for any film maker. I agree with most of what your saying but your impression of cinema is a little out of touch.
  • by houbou (1097327) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @07:21AM (#43222205) Journal
    the moment VHS and Beta came on the market and allowed us to tape our shows, that's when Neilsen became obsolete. That and the fact that there are certain types of shows which timeslot and popularity have no relationship. We are empowered to watch a TV on our own time by being able to record it. Neilsen ratings have been a failure for a long time, but then again, the entire sponsoring mechanism behind funding a show isn't all that good either.. Look at shows like Stargate SG-1 who didn't rely on sponsors.. lasted 10 seasons and spun off 2 other shows and direct to movie DVDs, etc..
    • I wouldn't got THAT far back... while people would obviously record their shows or movies it wasn't THAT large of a number. And by agreeing to be a Nealson family you'd probably not do it was much as the regular person. I recall doing it, and doing it was a PitA. You could get maybe 2hr on a tape on "good" quality (more on poor quality) and after a while you'd wear out the tape. We had a very VERY old VCR (one of the early ones) and I recall programming that thing was a pain.

      But now-a-days, a large perc

      • by houbou (1097327)
        VHS had 6 hrs limit and could toggle between 2 4 and 6 hrs of recording. And as far as I'm concerned, the moment we could record our shows, is the moment the Neilsen ratings were doomed to fail. We've been able to record our own TV shows for the last 20 yrs for sure.. And then, of course, we could skip the ads with our remotes.. So, the advertising model slowly got skewed too. Today's problem is that every show must be a quick hit or else.. in a certain timeslot.. which means.. Advertisers retail space o
  • by realsilly (186931) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @08:37AM (#43222601)

    One quiet Sunday morning in 2007 at around 8:00 am, I received a call. It was from a survey company asking if I would talk to them about taking a survey. I politely explained I was on the "Do Not Call" list and requested that they don't call again. The woman on the other end of the phone was aghast at my response. She responded, "...but were the Nielson Ratings company", to which I promptly responded, "So." Again she was floored at the fact that I would not take the survey and didn't care it was the Nielson Ratings. She stammered, "But were the prestigious Nielsons Ratings Company." and she said something else still trying to convince me to take their survey. I finally responded, (paraphrased) "I don't care who your are at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning, you woke me up for some survey that I don't want to take, good bye." I then promptly hung up.

    I don't care who you are, if I politely inform you that I don't want to take your call, simply be gracious enough to not argue with me and end the call.

    • err this is wrong in several ways

      47CFR64.1200 does include the fact that

      "No person or entity shall initiate any telephone solicitation to a residential telephone subscriber:

              Before the hour of 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. (local time at the called party's location), and"

      and i think you get bonus points for you being on the DNC list.

  • Sorry, but I abhor network television. The constant litany of crime scene investigation shows is definite proof of a dumbing down of society. Crime shows are essentially the same story told week after week after week with only minor changes to the who, what, where, why, and how of forensic investigation. I pretty much believe there are no real writers anymore on these shows, only a computer churning out templated scripts.

    The moment a show comes out with a plot arc that spans multiple episodes the idiot m

  • I'm not saying that for love of Nielsen (because shows I've loved got screwed by the ratings system), but basically, TV shows have two models for monetization outside of PBS:

    1: Give the shows away over the air and sell ads to pay for it.

    2: Sell access to the channel at a premium and make the shows worthy of the premium.

    The first covers all network TV and virtually all of basic cable - even though the cable companies pay to carry the basic cable channels. The second covers HBO, Showtime, etc. In the premium

  • Actually, the basic premise seems to be that Nielsen is irrelevant as a metric because of these outlets, and that premise is wrong. The whole and sole point of Nielsen isn't to determine how many people are actually watching the show...it's actually to figure out how many people are watching the advertising. Yes, yes, I know...they talk about who's watching what show, and all that, but in reality that isn't the important thing, and isn't the point...the money is in the advertising, and the ratings are us

    • Nielsen accounts for DVR/instant streaming in metered markets. The cuts of data are for people who saw it within as much as seven days of when the spot ran, and ad-agencies both have the ability in some cases to disable the ad skipping fast forward, also they develop ads specifically so that they can verify you'll have seen a certain amount of information when fast forwarding..

  • We watch with tablets on our laps so we can look up an actor's IMDb page. We tweet about the latest plot twist (discreetly, to avoid spoilers). We fill up the comments section of our favorite online recappers. We kibitz with Facebook friends about Hannah Horvath's latest paramour. We start Tumblrs devoted to Downton decor.

    No, we don't. Not most of us. Not normal people.

    And if I wrote shit like that I'd submit it anonymously too.

  • that's not how we watch any more.
    Hulu Check
    Netflix Check
    Apple TV, Check
    Amazon Prime Check
    Roku Check
    iTunes Check
    smartphone Check
    tablet Check
    Very good. They have managed to list almost all of the ways in which I don't watch TV. In fact, there are only two ways in which I watch TV. One is live on my TV, if it is on a commercial free channel, and the other is time shifted by DVR, if it has commercials, so I can fast forward through them. I don't watch TV on any of the other things that are listed in t
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@PARISlynx.bc.ca minus city> on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:33AM (#43223639) Journal

    Just before the turn of the century, our household was offered the opportunity to be part of the Nielson ratings.

    Owing to remembering all-too-often experience as a youth, when I would start to watch new shows that I really liked, only to see them cancelled before they finished even half a season, let alone established any kind of closure for the events in the show, simply on account of poor ratings, I believed that the chance to be actively involved in measuring the my involvement in the shows that I liked would finally be my opportunity for my voice to be heard. Certainly, since every member in a Nielson home represents a viewership of something on the order of 10,000 or more viewers in other households, I figured that if records were actually being kept about which shows that I watch, and this information was handed to the neworks, then the chance of a show that I liked being cancelled was bound to be that much less.

    They hooked up devices to all of our video equipment, to record not only which stations we were watching, but also which programs we were recording. The logging-in procedure was perhaps the most tedious aspect, having to be repeated every couple of hours if the TV was still on to ensure that people were still actually there, but I still found it reassuring that my votes were counting for something. Each member of our household was assigned a unique button on the set-top box which represented that individual's viewership, so that they could track demographics for a show and not just whether or not a program was simply being watched. When our niece came to live with us in 2000, they assigned her a button as well.

    Then, in 2003. the first new show I was really interested in since we started being a Nielson household came on the air on what was then called the "UPN network", Jake 2.0. All 6 of us in my family enjoyed the show, and watched it religiously every week. Alas, however, it was cancelled after 16 episodes.

    I was quite upset about this. Finally the few TV shows that I actually watched were actually being noted by people who had influence to affect the program, and when a new show comes on that I really like and watch every single week, the show gets cancelled anyway.

    I called up our regional contact person later that same week and told her that I wanted the stuff pulled out of our equipment... that we were resigning. She was disappointed to hear it, and attempted to tell me that contrary to my beliefs, my voice was really being heard, but as it apparently didn't make any difference to the outcome, I ended it then and there.

    I remember saying to the tech person as they were dismantling the equipment from out TV and VCR, however, that I thought they should probably start expanding their facilities to include Internet usage. He nodded in agreement with me while he worked, saying that it would be a good idea, but that he felt the technology wasn't quite ready to make that practical.

  • It's becoming increasingly evident that the Nielson demographic is no longer relevant in part because of the age factor. The people who routinely watch TV in real time with commercials, eating off TV trays and leafing through physical copies of TV Guide, are grandparents now, or great-grandparents. And those young people still watching TV (if they're not oldpharts lying about their age) in real time are by definition somewhat disconnected from technology. This has to skew the results in interesting ways.

    • Nielsen accounts for non-real time watching in their ratings. Including DVR and instant streaming..

  • Along same theme owlnation commented, I was bitching the other day about how terrible TV programming has become. A friend said objective of networks and TV stations is to get your eyeballs glued to the screen, they are not concerned whether you really enjoy the programming or not because you are not the customer. If it's a bad show and you watch it, they've achieved their objective. However, he mentions increasing views of Netflix may disrupt this paradigm. If Kardashians shows were available for fee, i.e.

  • Nielsen does not only meter the people who watch a program when it airs. They haven't done this in over a decade. DVR and Instant view options do not negatively impact Nielsen's tracking. If you live in the middle of nowhere Nielsen still rates anyone who saw the program or saw it within one day of it airing. If you live in a metropolis there a significantly more dynamic cuts of data available including tracking people who see a program within 7 days of it being aired.

    More importantly, media buyers don'

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