Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Nielsen Company

This past Thursday on April 1st I presented on the Nielsen Company’s rating system for Television. Nielsen rates television shows on how many people are watching and they also measure more than 40% of the world’s viewing behavior. They use a national sample, composed of a cross-section of representative homes throughout the United States to count the number of people watching TV. Arthur Nielsen introduced the Audimeter (his first metering device) in 1936 when there were only about 200 television sets in use worldwide. His measuring service was officially established in 1950. Today is common for households to have multiple TV sets and the measuring systems are constantly evolving to keep up with today’s innovations surrounding televisions and their programs.

The theme of the week asked the question: How do older forms of media inform new media markets? In the beginning the Nielsen Company just focused on rating radio programs because that was the most current media. Then entertainment advanced to television so they moved to monitoring TV programs as well. Currently people are now watching TV from their cell phones and iPods. Nielsen is now trying to find a way to monitor the use of these mobile devices.

Before my research on this type of rating system I had no idea how television stations were finding out which of their shows were being watched the most. The question that sparked the most class discussion was the one asking how they felt about Nielsen putting “miniature meters” into their mobile devices and tracking what they are watching. A few students believed that doing that would be crossing the line and was an invasion of privacy. I think people would be more comfortable with this type of technology if they knew more about it and were able to give consent to the company to allow them to do this. Nielsen plans to do away with all of their paper diaries by 2011 and so they are trying to keep up with our fast paced world and the future.

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