Saturday, July 7, 2012

According to the Nielsen Ratings…

I’ve often wondered about those Nielsen ratings: How many people were selected to participate? Were any of them like me? Did Nielsen even exist?

The answer to that last question arrived in the form of work. Years ago while employed at a typesetting shop—which reeled in Nielsen as a client—I proofread a few projects for the ratings giant. Yet I remained at odds with the America Nielsen analyzed and reported. When would they ask ME what I thought?

Turns out, the answer (a lifetime later) is this past week. Yup. The longtime (since 1923) media research company finally wanted to know what I watched on television. I was selected as a representative of my region of viewers.

Trouble is I feel like a poseur. I doubt very much that my viewing preferences are anything like those of my neighbors. First, I’ve no DISH or cable or similar connection. Second, I dislike reality TV and don’t watch daytime programming. Third, I have no DVR, so a show has to be really good or I have to be really unmotivated before I’ll suffer through commercials for network TV. Fourth, PBS programming in the Horse Capital of the World is a little lean. All of which is to say that my television viewing runs a distant second to my reading activities.

So, though I was delighted to record everything I or my husband watched—and when we watched it on what channel—only one category of “My TV Diary” (as Nielsen calls it) revealed heavy usage: “TV Off.” If I’d harbored any hopes that My Diary would help improve network TV, I would guess my repetitive checkmarks in the “TV Off” column dashed them. Sigh.

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