Ever Wondered How TV Ratings Work?

You must have come across the term “TV Ratings” at least once in your life, but have you ever wondered how they actually function. If you have heard the term “TV Ratings”, you would have also come across “Neilsen”. Over the years, Nielsen Media Research has become the unheralded king of national measurement service for the television industry in the United States and Canada (North America). Nielsen Media Research collects the TV viewership data in North America and measures the number of TV viewers. It later shares its findings with the TV and cable networks, advertisers, and the North American media outlets.


How Many People Watch TV in North America?

This whole research and efforts allow Nielsen Media Research to find out how many people are watching TV and what their favorite shows are. The rating company has approximately 5,000 households that have agreed to be part of their sample for estimating the national ratings. This is crucial data not only for TV channels and TV cable providers but also for advertisers who devise their marketing and advertising strategies in the light of these numbers. It also helps TV channels to design their programming in the light of the general interest. Moreover, cable TV operators use this data to understand the needs of their customers and include the channels and shows in their line-up to stay abreast of the evolving TV viewership trends across the North American content.


Nielsen Media Research’s Findings

According to the reports by Nielsen Media Research, around 99 million households in the United States have television sets at home. It means the sample that the company uses for its research is not that large when compared with the actual number of US TV viewers. However, it doesn’t mean that the sample doesn’t truly represent the viewership. The company makes sure that the sample includes the right people so that they can offer the top-quality data, which can later be used in a variety of ways.


What are North Americans Watching on TVs?

Gathering this data is quite a complicated job. In order to find out what the North Americans are watching on their TVs, the company installs meters in the selected samples of homes. These meters not only track when the TV sets are on but also record which programs they watch and for how long they watch different TV shows. It uses a black box whose design includes a computer and a modem. The device collects and dispatches the gathered data to the company’s central computer every night. The company’s officials then match the data with the programming schedules and prepare a report about how many people watch a particular show at given times.


The Methodology

The company also uses small boxes that are placed close to the TV sets of those in the national sample. These are also used for collecting data of the TV viewers who are part of the national sample. These boxes also report data every night to the company’s central system. The members push on or off the buttons on these small boxes when they start or end viewing TV.


The North American national TV ratings rely heavily on these installed meters. The Nielsen Media Research carries out periodic audits and quality checks and regularly compares the ratings it gets from different samples and measurement methods. The company randomly selects participants for its national sample. Every American household with a TV can be a part of the national sample. Moreover, the company also calls thousands of people and asks them if their TVs are on and what are they watching.


The Final Word

What Americans watch on their TV sets is crucial information and the Nielsen Media Research spends a fortune on this research every year. This research is valuable not only for the rating company but also for the advertisers who spend billions of dollars on various advertising campaigns. They use these research reports to ascertain their audience and their interests. Their ad campaigns are mostly based on the conclusion of these reports. Similarly, TV channels also study Nielsen’s research report to understand their top and flop shows.


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