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Nielsen Ratings in the Age of the Internet 176

alphadogg writes "If everyone started watching '24' or 'CSI' on video iPods or streamed over the Internet — instead of on TV in their living rooms — these top-rated shows would probably go the way of 'Cop Rock.' This is because Nielsen Media Research cannot collect data about what people watch on handheld video-viewing gadgets or from PCs streaming network TV shows. While Nielsen estimates around 90% of TV viewing still happens in homes, it's this burgeoning 10% that TV networks and advertisers are desperate to delve into." Note that this story is obnoxiously spanning 6 pages. For a publication named "Network World" you'd think they'd know better.
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Nielsen Ratings in the Age of the Internet

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  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:08PM (#16365203)
    if everyone watches them on iPods and what not, they'll be paying for them with cash instead of advertising...
    • by Sancho ( 17056 )
      If the network hasn't adapted to using downloads in their equations, then Nielsen is right. Downloads can only hurt a show's ratings and chances of sticking around. This also means that demographics would come into play--there are bound to be demographic groups that are more likely to download than watch on TV.

      Once everyone takes downloads into account, there are still issues. How many downloads make up for the lost advertising revenue (this is important, because advertising has contractual elements that
      • Advertising is a one-shot trick--once the episode is over, it is impossible to get viewers to watch the ads in that show again (until the reruns, which will have different ads). With downloads, older episodes can still be profitable.

        This raises the big question for me (that's only loosely connected): how will downloads change the business model of television shows. In the normal broadcast model, there is a sort of scarcity of bandwidth. For each station, there are a limited number of time slots, and a ve

        • by Sancho ( 17056 )
          But at $2 per episode, this will never fly. Let's assume that every viewer buys every ep of a particular show. It makes the math easier. I've heard estimates that 1hr dramas cost roughly $1mil per episode (I'm going to roll Apple's profits and costs into this, which does funny things to the numbers, but I'm intentionally oversimplifying). That means that to break even, a downloadable show would have to attract 500,000 viewers. Anything above that is profit, but no one spends $1mil to make $10 bucks. R
          • What you're saying makes some sense, but how does HBO make money on the Sopranos? HBO doesn't have advertising, so it's a relatively small number of people spending $15 a month, and I'd imagine that only a small portion of that goes towards funding any one of their original series. Is it DVD sales? How would DVD revenue compare with iTMS? Or is it syndication? I guess Sex in the City probably makes a pretty penny in syndication, but I'm not aware of the Sopranos being syndicated anywhere.

            That said, ev

  • by Dirtside ( 91468 )
    When will they start tracking people who watch TV shows after downloading them off BitTorrent? I want my viewership counted too!

  • by Cyphertube ( 62291 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:09PM (#16365223) Homepage Journal

    I've talked to a few people who've been involved in Nielsen ratings, and these were hardly normal people. One family basically only ever watched Charmed on TNT, and then an occasional news broadcast. They really need to start pulling more automated information.

    In my home, I have Dish Network, with a dual-tuner DVR. So, I often end up watching two shows from the same timeslot. Yeah, I probably skip through commercials, but I doubt they are getting ratings for both shows at the same time.

    The other thing with Nielsen is a failure to get really good demographics. I mean, if Nielsen had a clue, they wouldn't have yanked Family Guy and have to bring it back. They always look at numbers for total viewers, instead of demographics and loyalty. Some of the smaller shows that get yanked could actually charge more for better targetted advertising.

    • One family basically only ever watched Charmed on TNT, and then an occasional news broadcast. They really need to start pulling more automated information.

      Exactly my point. The Nielsen ratings have been next to useless a long time before the internet got big.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      The ratings really are kind of usless.
      Wouldn't it be logical that if there sales go up then the advertising works?
      Of course that will favor shows with less sophisticated audiences. You know the ones that don't use PVRs and don't skip commercials.

      Franky that is probably one of the reasons that Slashdot isn't worth millions of dollars like Myspace is.
      What percentage of Slashdot users block ads?
    • what Ebay is to auctions. Except Ebay actually works most of the time. But they are both 800 pound gorillas in their respective fields, largly because they were successful early on.
  • I remember back when adult swim was getting big and they got the highest ratings of any cable channel. I cheered... and then family guy came back on fox.
    HURRAH FOR ADULT SWIM'S NEILSON RATINGS!!!! And thanks for all the /.'ers who contributed... becuase I know a lot of you did :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I cheered at first, too. But I cheer less and less with every episode I watch. It's just not the same as it was in the first and second seasons. It relies way too much on its established base of fans to find humor in its self-referencing jokes.

      And most of [as] is turning into crap, too. How I long for the old days of Sealab 2021, ATHF, Home Movies, and SG:C2C instead of Squidbillies, Perfect Hair Forever, 12 Oz. Mouse, and Tom Goes to the Mayor. At least they started showing new Harvey Birdman episodes last
      • by k_187 ( 61692 )
        Indeed, adult swim has gotten way too focused on being "strange yet funny" rather than just being humourous. I blame Aquateen since it started the trend.
        • Agreed. I loved the first season, but after that it just started getting bad. You can also blame it on ATHF since 12 oz. Mouse is made by one creator of Aqua Teens, and Squidbillies is created by the other.
        • There are exactly two shows worth watching on Adult Swim:

          1. Futurama
          2. Family Guy

          and #2 is actually questionable, even though I find the show hilarious. FG is incredibly funny, but relies too much on pop culture references and sheer repetition.
      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
        Squidbillies is the funniest show on that network. Sealab 2021 and SG:C2C were funny at first, but they very quickly became repetitive, juvenile, and dull. The problem was that they were basically brainless and hollow, which is only funny in very small doses. Real satire comes from insight.


  • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:10PM (#16365239) Homepage
    It doesn't really matter how you are watching the shows, since the only people who counts are the Nielsen households. So, everybody who isn't a Nielsen household could be downloading the shows and it wouldn't impact the ratings.
    • by szembek ( 948327 )
      This brings me to my question regarding sample size. What type of sample size does Nielsen use? I have never known anybody in my life who had a Nielsen box. It seems strange to me. Has anyone here on slashdot ever had a box in their home, or been offered one? And yes I agree, I would think that there are many far superior methods of counting watchers.
      • by Sancho ( 17056 )
        We've never had a box, but twice we've been asked to record a diary of our television watching habits. This was about 10 years ago. I think they included a $10 check each time.
      • I was interviewed 3 times on the phone, then sent an informational brochure about being a "Nielsen family" (I live alone). They called about 10 times trying to set up an appointment to install their equipment. I never answered or called back.

        Apparently (according to the brochure), you have to have every TV tuner in your house wired to a central Nielsen box. It connects to an internal, standard connector in your TV sets (won't work for me, I have an EyeTV 500), and the central box "phones home" periodically
  • It's progress. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:13PM (#16365269) Homepage Journal
    Why would this be a problem to anyone other than people involved with the Nielsen Media Research firm? Their business model worked for ages, but it's becoming less and less relevant due to the technological environment.

    Piracy aside, producers have a pretty good idea how many DVDs they're selling, how many people are hitting up their authorized web streams, and how many digital video purchases are being made over iTunes and whatnot.

    I just don't think we are going to be living in an age where the content providers have to pay Nielsen to sell their own statistics back to them for much longer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      I just don't think we are going to be living in an age where the content providers have to pay Nielsen to sell their own statistics back to them for much longer.

      Content providers aren't the relevant customer for Nielson data. Advertisters are.

  • Although the information should be easily collected, I wouldn't know about the shows on I-Tunes. If they are not going to reliable post the shows I want to watch (cough where was Battlestar this weekend you frakheads at I-Tunes cough) then the numbers we get from there do not mean anything. This should be viewed more as a call for the services that people like I use instead of television to become as regular and predictable as television shows. Otherwise, it's an inferior product being measured against a
  • Go to a popular bittorrent site. For TV Series posted, count the number of seeders and leachers. There....that's what people are downloading. If you don't see the latest fox piece of crap out there (When toasters attack), chances are it sucks...can it.

    Or go to that place we don't talk about and how what shows are being posted and requested. I don't recall seeing Dancing w/ The Stars on

    Yes...this may be somewhat tilted, but then again, so are the mailings, etc... And if Neilsens are anything l
    • Go to a popular bittorrent site. For TV Series posted, count the number of seeders and leachers.

      Except that would be completely incorrect.

      I straddle the high and the low tech in my day-to-day, and what I see -- totally anecdotal, of course -- is that the "high tech" guys, often a younger demographic, and not always the attractively younger demographic, are all about the torrent and pod. They just don't watch a lot of TV. The older demographic, the one in that advertisers' sweet spot, still for the most p
      • by Sancho ( 17056 )
        It's not even about what people are watching, which is the real reason that illicit downloads will never be used as a metric to decide what shows to keep on the air.

        It's about money. Pure and simple. Will revenue from iTunes downloads of The Office justify the loss of advertising revenue? If not, they shouldn't be counted (and the network is shooting itself in the foot by offering the downloads). If so, then those downloads should count in whatever equation they use to determine if a show should stay in
  • While Nielsen estimates around 90% of TV viewing still happens in homes...

    WOH WAH WOH vested interest WAH WAAAH.
  • We might switch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:26PM (#16365451) Homepage Journal
    Interesting the timing of this story, because I received my DirecTV bill yesterday, and see they tacked another $10 on out of the blue. The only time we watch TV is for specific shows (at the moment Battlestar Galactica, Lost and Survivor). We watched the previous 2 seasons of Lost (48 episodes) entirely from downloads off the internet, and we are now watching it "live" since we are caught up with the storyline. So on one hand, had we not been able to download and watch the older shows, we definitely would not be watching the new episodes live. So in that specific case "offline" viewing resulted in an increase in live viewing.

    However, considering the cost increase at DirecTV, I'm now seriously considering completely pulling the plug on Satellite / Cable, and just downloading the shows we watch. They are usually available online within an hour or two of airtime. If the shows were available online for purchase, and if they were offered in a format that was conducive to what we want (ie no DRM), we would consider purchasing them. The total cost should still be less than our DirecTV.

    Our kids watch more TV than we do, but I still download and burn shows for them to watch. For example, all the Invader Zim episodes, and just in the last few days they've really enjoyed the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons they've only just been introduced to.

    So yeah, a change is coming, that's for sure. Right now this type of activity is limited to the more technical minded folks (for example, I download toons in DivX, and re-encode to MPEG1 VCD for the kids to view in the car - a pretty involved multi-step process to get the audio encoded in-synch). However, it won't be much longer until our parents will be doing this too. Recently I was surprised to visit my Aunt and Uncle (typical computer / www type users), to find them involved in an orgy of DVD burning. If they only knew of the availability of content on the net, and were instructed on how to get it to disc, they would certainly join in as well.

    The moral is that the networks need to be as unlike the RIAA (and to some extent, the MPAA) as possible and get good (DRM-less), formal online access channels in place to their content ASAP before the general public switches to methods completely outside their control (aka no advertising or Nielsen tracking, etc).

    Dan East
    • Re:We might switch (Score:4, Interesting)

      by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @01:24PM (#16366337) Homepage
      "If the shows were available online for purchase, and if they were offered in a format that was conducive to what we want (ie no DRM), we would consider purchasing them. The total cost should still be less than our DirecTV."

      And that's exactly where the content creators are failing.

      At a charge of $1.99/episode, the 21 programs my wife and I watch in a week would cost $84/month. Instead, I pay for minimal basic cable, $15/month, which gives me DRM-free content (with skipable advertising). To be competative, the cost per episode would need to be 20 cents each. There is no way that the content providers would even consider that.

      Part of the problem is the unrealistic cost of music. Because people are bad at math, and are willing to pay 99 cents a track instead of 10 cents - a more realistic value - TV content providers set the bar higher.

      Until music is 10 cents and TV shows are 20 cents, this battle will continue. While the "horse and buggy" industries laments the changing business model, people will bypass the system (download illegally uploaded content), costing the content providers increasing lost revenue. At the same time, the loss of statistical data will cause the media providers to make bad decisions, hurting their revenue even more. The more they fight reality, the more it costs them.

      • by Sancho ( 17056 )
        There's nothing more realistic about $0.10/track versus $0.99/track. ITMS is a phenomenal hit at $0.99. That buck looks like it is definitely within the 'market will bear' curve.

        The difference with TV is that it's available much more cheaply through the old distribution channels. If all you care about is music, $10 for an album (or the ability to pick and choose what you purchase) might be worth it. With TV, a given episode will air between 2 and 4 times a year for new shows, and possibly more often for
        • There's nothing more realistic about $0.10/track versus $0.99/track. ITMS is a phenomenal hit at $0.99. That buck looks like it is definitely within the 'market will bear' curve.

          To make that statement, you have to know what percentage of downloads is being handled by iTunes. I would be very surprised to hear that even 2-3% of downloads are via services that charge $.99/track.

          The difference with TV is that it's available much more cheaply through the old distribution channels. If all you care about is

          • by Sancho ( 17056 )
            To make that statement, you have to know what percentage of downloads is being handled by iTunes. I would be very surprised to hear that even 2-3% of downloads are via services that charge $.99/track.

            Last year, Apple had about 80% market share in legal, downloadable music distribution. Even now they're still considered the market leader [] and it seems unlikely that their market share has dropped down to your 2-3% in a single year.

            Radio provides music much more chea
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )
      If the shows were available online for purchase

      They are. iTunes Music Store has all of those shows. Although they hadn't yet posted Season 3 premiere of Battlestar as of sunday morning.

      if they were offered in a format that was conducive to what we want (ie no DRM)

      Ah, so you're one of those Slashdot masses living in fantasy-land. No they are not DRM-free. Nor is any other TV show available now or in the future. Cope.

      we would consider purchasing them.

      Bullshit. You're just so happy that since they aren't
      • by Mr2001 ( 90979 )
        They will be DRM-free once the content providers realize DRM doesn't put a dent in piracy and only costs them money.
        • Just like copy protection in games went away when publishers realiz-- oh wait, it didn't.

          I'm predicting the future by extrapolating from similar situations in the past. You're just giving me a bunch of wishful thinking. Do you have any evidence to support your belief? Or perhaps something to demonstrate that the copy protection in games is different-enough from DRM that the games industry doesn't make a good example?
      • by Sancho ( 17056 )
        I'm not the parent you replied to, but I will say that I don't pirate and I don't use iTMS due to DRM restrictions. Instead, I have cable with a DVR and for those few shows/movies which I really want to be able to watch any time I damn well feel like it, I get the DVDs.

        If I could burn iTMS shows to DVD and watch them in any DVD player or in Linux, I'd definitely buy them. I have no particular interest in "sharing" them with others, but I want to be able to exercise my fair use rights (and first sale) righ
        • Thanks for your honesty. The problem is that this DRM issue is so polluted by people whose main concern is justifying their own piracy.

          People argue "I pirate because the record companies don't sell online." When the record companies DO finally see the light, they argue, "well, now I pirate because $1.00 a track is too expensive." When you show them the millions of tracks Apple has sold at that price, then the argument becomes, "well, I pirate because those have DRM." When does it end?

          If you're going to
  • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:28PM (#16365495)
    Note that this story is obnoxiously spanning 6 pages. For a publication named "Network World" you'd think they'd know better.
    Do you think they make their money by letting you read the content of the article, or by putting ads on the screen with them. I really wonder if people are so simpleminded as to think companies do things for charity - use bandwidth, create content, provide services, etc.

    Of course it spans 6 pages. That way if you like the article - they get 6 ad views. Perfect for them

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lubricated ( 49106 )
      why not put six ads on one page instead?
      Really it shows how broken the system is when people get paid per view instead of click.
  • A couple of times in my life, I've participated in radio surveys. They sent me a green booklet, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2, with dates and times in (I think) 15-minute increments. I was expected to write down, for any time period, what (if any) radio station I listened to during that time -- at a minimum, either the call sign or station number, but there was room for both plus a description.

    "At 8pm I watched Deal or No Deal on TV. At 9pm, I downloaded and watched The Simpsons on my computer. At 9:30pm, I watched Bat
  • by CyberLord Seven ( 525173 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:37PM (#16365605)
    Neilson media does NOT pull viewing statistics directly from people's television sets. The vast majority of their data comes from...

    ...drum roll please...

    viewing diaries!

    Boxes set up in people's homes cost money to make and money to install. It is far cheaper and easier to ask people to keep a simple diary of what they watch and then collect the diaries. I would'nt be surprised if the diaries are kept online now instead of in dead-tree editions in the home.

    Hey, there's a great programming project!

    Somebody hack Neilson to grab and distort the online diaries. >8^D Maybe we can get Star Trek: Enterprise back on the air. >8^P

    • Neilson media does NOT pull viewing statistics directly from people's television sets.

      Much like many things on slashdot, this knee-jerk answer is false. Nielson does pull info from people's television sets.

      Although I don't work for Nielson, I did interview at a local branch office a few months back. I guess I was too much 'software' for them, they seem to be looking for more low-level electronics guys (TV repair and the like). New hires apparently spend a couple months at in-depth training learning h

      • I should have made it clear that some of the data comes from sets that are directly wired.

        I still think the majority of their data comes from diaries. I know a family that was using them in 2004 or early 2005.

    • Not only that, but those who want to contribute to Nielsen ratings are often self selecting. I had some roomates at one time who wanted to be involved in the Nielsen ratings. They applied and got the diary type rating system. They even joked about lying about their ratings to pick and choose what they wanted to rate high or low. Maybe things have changed, but not everyone gets a set-top box. My info is 10 years old, so maybe they have some sort of accountability when it comes to diarys, but I doubt it.
  • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:45PM (#16365713)
    Saying that Nielsen ""cannot collect data" on this is clearly false. Yes, it's true their automated data collection boxes can't get it.

    But my household was chosen to be a one-month Nielsen family a couple of months ago, and they sent us a journal in which were asked (and payed) to log each TV show we watched on TV.

    We thought this was particularly silly to only ask us to log what TV shows we saw on TV, rather than log every source of video we watched, from going out to the movies, to silly 1-minute clips on YouTube, to Amazon Fishbowl, to bittorrented TV shows, to movies or TV shows on DVD we checked out of the library.

    As it happens, we hardly watch any TV, and we had company that week, it was a hot summer week and we don't have air conditioning, and it was summer reruns. We never once turned on the television that week. Although I actually didn't need those qualifiers, it's not uncommon for us not to turn on the TV all week. Most of the TV shows we watch, we watch on our computer on DVD's we get from the library. Which they didn't ask us to write down.

    But it would have been just as easy for them if they had. Perhaps they won't get as accurate information if they ask people to keep their own journals instead of logging things automatically. But if they pay people well, and maybe even send out some largely automated electronic devices that allow people easily search for and click on what they watched (when possible), they can certainly still get this data. There was a "commentary" section, in which we got an opportunity to give them a piece of our minds about canceling Firefly.

    There was a "commentary" section, in which we told them that most of the video we watch, including TV shows, is not broadcast TV. We also took the opportunity to give them a piece of our minds about canceling Firefly.

  • I already watch most of my TV by internet download. The reason however is because cable networks here in Mexico only bring proven-hit series and then, only after about a year. So why should I pay the cable company for outdated content? this way I get to watch content a day after it airs. And here's a hint to tv companies: if you give me the content even with ads, I'll still be watching it.
  • by kidtexas ( 525194 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @12:55PM (#16365857)
    We were a Neilsen family for a while and I have no idea how they made sense of the data. Little to no sports, random shows late at night, no reality shows. Basically nothing that was particularly popular or current ( except maybe Letterman).

    The 4 main family members (age, sex) were keyed in permanently, but guests had to be entered in when they were over. I always enjoyed keying friends in as 85 year old women, 3 year olds, etc. Of course we'd get sick of it and just leave the TV on a channel and wonder off. I can't imagine what they thought of an 85 year old women watching a Sailor Moon marathon.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @01:26PM (#16366375) Homepage
    Nielsen ratings are worthless anyways. Most CATV systems can collect better and more accurate data themselves from the set top boxes and they are starting to use it for demographics.

    Tivo,Replay they both sell their demographics as higher-quality than nielsen data.

    Nielsen data was not really relevant anymore when I was still working in advertising.. The sales people used the data from the CATV systems to sell ad's.

    Telling a customer that this timeslot or show has X rating is crap compared to telling the customer that XXX,XXX local people were watching the TV channel at X:XXpm when your ad aired.

    Nielsen can not give that kind of data.
  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Monday October 09, 2006 @01:47PM (#16366759) Homepage
    It is unaccurate and, as I understand it, everyone in the industry knows it.
    Not only do they not measure internet viewing, but they don't measure dorm rooms where hundreds of thousands of college students live, or public viewing like sports bars which are packed full of people watching sports every weekend.
    Not being able to measure viewing of downloaded shows isn't an entirely new problem, but just makes an existing problem worse.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <<moc.talfdren> <ta> <tkram>> on Monday October 09, 2006 @01:51PM (#16366833) Journal

    When I was growing up in the 70's and early 80's I regularly got disappointed in television. Not because of crappy programming, per se, but it happened with disturbing regularity that some network would get a new show that really piqued my interest, and I'd get right into the show and then it would be quickly cancelled, often after only half a season. Anyways, it was always on account of "poor ratings", and this happened to me so many times while I was growing up, I've completely lost count... but I'd figure probably between 15 to 20 times in my childhood alone. Anyways, I always figured that maybe there just weren't enough people with my tastes that were hooked up into the ratings system.

    Then fast forward a couple of decades to 1999. I have my own family, with 4 kids of my own, so we had a really full house. One day someone came to our door who worked for Nielson, the ratings company. This person told us that our house had been selected to participate in the Nielson ratings and asked me if we'd like to participate.

    I felt like I had freakin' won the lottery... I was flooded by memories of all those times I was growing up and having shows that I really liked cancelled due to poor ratings and thought that I'd _finally_ get a chance to have a voice... and my favorite shows would not be cancelled. I was extremely interested in the offer, and after talking with the rest of the family with it to see how they would feel about it, I said yes, we'd agree.

    They proceeded to hook up their ratings equipment to every television, vcr, and video switch in the house... and connected that to our phone line. They told us it would collect data, and then use our phone line once every night or so to connect to their computer and inform them of our viewing habits. The system was designed so that it would only try to use our phone when it was not in use, and would automatically terminate if another phone was picked up, so it would not interefere with our regular phone use. The video equipment was fairly straightforward... there was one logging unit per television, which Nielson told us we needed to log into whenever we turned on the TV, regardless of what we were turning the TV on for... be it watching a DVD or video, watching regular television, or anything else that needed the TV, we had to log in. Each of us was assigned a single button on the device and all we had to do to log in was press that one button. To log out, we just neede to press the button again, and everybody would automatically be logged out if the television was turned off. The logging device would automatically examine what channel or input device the television was tuned to, as well as the settings of any external video switches to determine if we were watching television or just watching a movie or doing something else with the TV. It would also, regardless of whether the television was on or not, log what channels the VCR recorded... although it could not assign any particular household members to what the VCR did, so I guess the VCR was assigned a "general" category by their system. We didn't have to worry about it, at any rate.

    So... what did we get out of this? Well, not a whole lot... we'd get a cash-back rebate on any new video equipment we purchased, regardless of the price (although the rebate was not much, it was still nice), and of course for me, I had a personal interest in participating in the Nielson ratings system... a chance to _finally_ make a difference in the ratings system, as we were told that each person in our household would represent several thousand actual viewers.

    Okay... fast forward a few years again, to 2003. Television is utter tripe. We hardly watch any of it at all, because there's just so little of it that's any good. But then a show comes on UPN that looks intriguing. I watch the premiere, and I am instantly hooked. I tell my family about it and the following week we are all logged into the Nielson system watching the show. Everybody in the household love

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Reminds me of a great episode of "Duckman." Our protagonist has a breakdown near a trashy trailer park. As he's talking to one of the drooling, white-trash residents, he notices that every trailer has a satellite dish. The resident tells him "Oh, those are for our Nielson boxes--we all got one."


  • Get with the times with your recording equipment. Instead of a mail-in diary, use those newfangled FAX machines. :)

    (it's a joke people).
  • how do they come up with ratings for tv shows anyway? isn't my tv a passive receiver? how do they know who's watching what? same question for radio

The trouble with computers is that they do what you tell them, not what you want. -- D. Cohen