NIELSEN TV Ratings Explained or Defined

NIELSEN TV Ratings Explained or Defined

All the time various sources quote TV ratings numbers and sometimes those numbers don't make any clear sense. I grasp the idea of how many million viewers tuned in. That, I get and can grasp my mind around. But these odd, single digit 'ratings' make zero sense up front. So...

Nielsen TV ratings explained, quickly:

When you see a number for TV ratings like a 4/15 rating, or possibly just a 4, that 4 means the number of estimated number of households that tuned in to a show. The second number is the number or percentage of all Nielsen families that were estimated to be watching a show.

Of course a rating is nothing to advertisers unless they can focus on the folks who have the most money to spend on their products.

That demographic is the 'adult 18-49' age range. Apparently the rest of us don't spend the right amount of money to be important to most advertisers.

Technically, here are some technical breakdowns that advertisers look at:

HHs:           The estimated number of television households in the U.S..
LIVE+SD:  Those who watched the show the day it aired.  Whether live or DVR’d.
LIVE+7:     See LIVE+SD, but make it 7 days.
PERS 2+:    Estimated # of viewers over the age of 2 in the U.S..
RATING #: 1 point = 1% of the estimated Nielsen universe.

Yes, apparently that 'PERS 2+' means anyone over 3 years of age, who could possibly sway parents to buy things. Yikes.

Oh, and if you wonder what or why this is so important, keep this in mind that while schools struggle with funding and humans are starving around the world, and some diseases are not beaten out of existence because of the lack of funding to research it, well, television, both cable and basic networks pull in nearly $20 billion per season of programming.

That's how important the telvision process is. It is completely beholden to advertisers and why it is free. It is why we get pummelled with 22 minutes out of every hour of ads, not counting product placements or overlay text. And why they 'seem' so loud.

And THAT is what TV ratings are about.

Now as a footnote, TV ratings are becoming more and more outdated as society continues to move towards the digital age of DVRs, online viewing and what not. And the entertainment industry has been slow to keep up, but they must, if they want to continue to monetize our viewing habits like they do.  It's a complicated balance because if they don't make the money, we don't get the shows. But then many viewers as a whole, do what they can to avoid advertising. But then again, again, most of those folks probably don't spend their money the way advertisers brainwash us to do.

But that's just me. Most folks don't care as long as they can relax on the couch after a long day at work, a good dinner and some mindless quiet time. (And maybe with their beer or beverage of choice to wind the day down.)

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