The people’s choices – television ratings
Television ratings are among the most reliable tools and references for television stations. It serves as a substantial aid in helping them to make analyses if some TV shows would work if paired with a particular show, or if it needs to be completely removed from broadcast. In the U.S., television ratings would usually refer to Nielsen Media Research. They have become a de facto measurement of the television industry in North America.
Nielsen’s clients include the media, cable networks, and advertisers. These companies rely on the depth of the data collected from the research. By referring to the data obtained from Nielsen’s research, advertisers can evaluate which television programs and time slots to sponsor where the most number of viewers are in front of the tube.
Nielsen utilizes the statistical sampling technique in rating the shows. This is the same technique pollsters use to make a prediction of election results.
How television ratings are carried out
Using the statistical sampling technique, Nielsen scientifically selects around 5,000 households to become its “sample audience”. It is established as of September 26, 2005 that there are 110.2 million television households in the United States. Hence, the company needs to ensure the sample audience is representative to the viewing population for the research to be considered reliable and credible. Nielsen’s television ratings comprise of the “tuning data” or the shows most viewed as well as the “demographic data” or the composition of the viewing audience.
The television ratings research begins by asking households to cooperate in the survey. Nielsen measures television ratings using a “black box”, which is basically a computer and modem attached to the television sets that collect and retrieve data every night to the company’s Oldsmar, Florida operations center. The company asks the members of the household to switch on a button when they begin watching television and to turn it off along with their television. Television meters are used to keep track of the instances the television is turned on, what channels it is tuned to, and at what times.
Nielsen’s television ratings measurements include viewers 2 years old and up. The result of their research posted on November 20, 2006 has the following top 10 TV programs, network and the corresponding ratings in percentage: Desperate Housewives (ABC) 13.5, CSI: Miami (ABC) 11.9, Fox NFL Sunday PST Gn-Nat (FOX) 11.1, Deal or No Deal (NBC) 10.5, Grey’s Anatomy SP (ABC) 10.5, NCIS (CBS) 10.3, Criminal Minds (CBS) 10.2, CSI-Thanksgiving (CBS) 9.9, NBC Sunday Night Football (NBC) 9.7, CSI: NY (CBS) 9.4.