Friday, May 1, 2009

Nielsen Probe Finds People Not Pushing Buttons Properly

There was an interesting article published in the Media Daily News on Thursday.

Nielsen Wednesday began informing advertisers, agencies and television networks that rely on its national TV ratings that a significant number of people don't use its so-called "people meter" system properly. In fact, new data being released by Nielsen shows that the more people that are present in those TV ratings households, the more likely it is that they are not reporting their viewing accurately, and that the overall affect has been understating the national TV ratings by about 8%.

Nielsen did not release information showing what the effect was on specific TV outlets, programs or dayparts, and the average is the net result of people who both overstate and understate their viewing either by pushing people meter buttons when they are not actually watching TV, or by forgetting to push them when the are watching.

Read the full article here.


  1. not surprising. I wonder what the cause and effect will be. Not that I want Big Brother watching my every move but there HAS to be a better way of representing what we really watch.

    GL not bumping at all, even before the cancelation, was proof of all this final truth from Nielsen.
    Something tells me that TV station that is suing has themselves a major case!

    It's going to be interesting to watch it all unfold

  2. Well, that suing station has addressed the issue of monopoly. I do think that TiVo's rival service sort of begins to break that claim. As DVRs grow, there will be more and more accurate counting of households. Counting of viewers will ALWAYS be tricky, because it relies on some kind of "user action" to register that the user is in the room.

    I imagine they could automate it to the point that each user, as they enter the room, is wearing a necklace or bracelet with an their presence is automatically recorded. But, that STILL doesn't mean they're watching.

    In the end, we have to accept that this is inexact, and that sufficient samples are collected to allow for a reasonable margin of error.