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What do the TV ratings mean?

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What do the TV ratings mean?

Old 09-24-05, 09:39 PM
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What do the TV ratings mean?

I always see x.x/y what do the numbers mean? I think the x.x os the # of millions of viewers? I don't know. I'm slow.
Old 09-24-05, 10:12 PM
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Here is the best way to explain it via an example on thefutoncritic.com http://www.thefutoncritic.com/cgi/ratings.cgi

Example:

"Less Than Perfect" (households: 4.4/8, #9; adults 18-49: 2.7, #T4)

Details:

household rating = 4.4
household share = 8
household rank (for the night) = #9
adults 18-49 rating = 2.7
adults 18-49 rank (for the night) = tied for #4

Breakdown:

-- 4.4 household rating means that 4.4% of all households (that is to say homes with a TV set) watched this episode of "Less Than Perfect."

-- 8 household share means that 8% of all households that happened to be watching TV watched this episode of "Less Than Perfect."

-- For the 2004-05 season, Nielsen Media Research has determined there are an estimated 109.6 million television households in the U.S. This means that a single national household ratings point represents 1%, or 1,096,000 households.

-- With the above in mind, a 4.4 household rating equals 4.4% of 108.4 million television households or 4,769,600 households.

-- 2.7 adults 18-49 rating means that 2.7% of all adults 18-49 watched this episode of "Less Than Perfect."

-- For the 2004-05 season, Nielsen Media Research has determined there are an estimated 129.9 million adults between the ages of 18 and 49 in the U.S. This means that a single national adults 18-49 ratings point represents 1%, or 1.299 million people.

-- With the above in mind, a 2.7 adults 18-49 rating equals 2.7% of 129.9 million adults between the ages of 18 and 49 or 3,507,300 people.

Some things to keep in mind:

-- The share will always be larger than the rating. This is because the number of households watching television at any give time will always be less than those who own a television period.

-- The number of actual total viewers CANNOT be determined from the household rating/share. Unfortunately, we do not have access to the total viewers numbers on a daily basis.

Last edited by lwhy?; 09-24-05 at 10:14 PM.
Old 09-25-05, 12:06 AM
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Such depth. Thanks for the explanation. Never could tell how well one show did over another.
Old 09-25-05, 12:20 AM
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Not criticizing lwhy, but remember, 80% of all statistics are made up.
Old 09-25-05, 12:24 AM
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Hmm got a question. How are there more people 18-49 than people with TVs? Or does that include people 18-49 w/o TVs? And if so that's lame. Why would they base ratings including a group of people who couldnt watch if they wanted to?
Old 09-25-05, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel-A
Hmm got a question. How are there more people 18-49 than people with TVs? Or does that include people 18-49 w/o TVs? And if so that's lame. Why would they base ratings including a group of people who couldnt watch if they wanted to?
"With the above in mind, a 4.4 household rating equals 4.4% of 108.4 million television households or 4,769,600 households."

"For the 2004-05 season, Nielsen Media Research has determined there are an estimated 129.9 million adults between the ages of 18 and 49 in the U.S."
Old 09-25-05, 12:55 AM
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Ah I see. So a given house hold could have more than 1 18-49 watching tv in it. Got it. Interesting break down.
Old 09-25-05, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by milo bloom
Not criticizing lwhy, but remember, 80% of all statistics are made up.
Aren't the ratings mesured by Neilson househlds and only during certain weeks? I know sweeps are set up to determine numbers so local affiliates can charge for advertising accordingly. Why will the networks not get with cable and satelite providers for some real world data?
Old 09-25-05, 01:16 AM
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His quote was a joke, btw.
Old 09-25-05, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Daniel-A
His quote was a joke, btw.

I know, I started to equate the quote to a Neilson ratings joke, but went another direction and forgot I quoted him.
Old 09-25-05, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Cusm
I know, I started to equate the quote to a Neilson ratings joke, but went another direction and forgot I quoted him.
LoL Alzheimer's does that.
Old 09-25-05, 01:44 PM
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It's a joke, but I still think the Nielson ratings are, quite frankly, a crock of shit. They are using statistical sampling. Statistical sampling has been used for ages, but I have never, ever liked the idea of using a small percentage of people to represent the whole. The media will use these polls and surveys, and treat them like gospel, and the people out there that don't appreciate the inherent errors that can occur in these situations will take these numbers as gospel too. Without getting this off track, things like Presidential approval ratings are taken from what I consider very small sampling pools and I just can't allow myself to see them as always accurate, or at least, as accurate as everyone accepts them to be.

I could give a laundry list of shows that have been cancelled on ratings, but you could find fans everywhere that loved it, not surprisingly none of them were Nielson families.

Another thing, how many people actually know a Nielson family? Or know someone who knows someone?

I think with today's smarter cable and satellite boxes, it's foolish of networks to not put in place a way of allowing people to vote via their boxes. Unless of course the networks don't want to change. This may be an urban legend, but I once read that the original Battlestar Galactica was cancelled despite good ratings, because a high-up network guy's wife didn't like it. And then of course there's Bonnie Hammer.

Point is, I don't trust them, and as far as I'm concerned, somebody's rolling a d20 in a dank little office somewhere and that's why The King of Queens is still on the air and Firefly isn't.
Old 09-25-05, 02:10 PM
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There are only 5000 Nielsen families. I don't trust the Nielsen ratings either. I think that everyone watches different shows so gauging a show on 5000 out of 100 million families can't be very accurate. The reality is Nielsen ratings are what advertisers use to gauge whether they should place an ad during that show. If the ratings are low the networks have to charge less than for shows whose ratings are high. Therefore if the 5000 families don't watch a good show then the good show will have bad ratings which result in low ad rates and therefore will make the network want to cancel that show and see if a new show can get higher ad rates.

Last edited by lwhy?; 09-25-05 at 02:38 PM.
Old 09-25-05, 02:13 PM
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A sample of 5000 representing 100million is bad statistics. They seriously need a new model.
Old 09-25-05, 03:25 PM
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Who's going to pay for a more 'significant' sample size? That's the crux, thus, we are more or less stuck with the Nielsen ratings for now.
Old 09-25-05, 03:30 PM
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The way that Nielsen Media Research finds out about who is watching is to measure what a sample of television viewers are watching. For our national ratings estimates, we use a sample of more than 5,000 households, containing over 13,000 people who have agreed to participate. Since there are over 99 million households with TVs in the U.S., it might seem that a sample of 5,000 is just not big enough to represent the nation.

Actually, a representative sample doesn't have to be very large to represent the population it is drawn from. For example, you don't need to eat an entire pot of vegetable soup to know what kind of soup it is. A cup of soup is more than adequate to represent what is in the pot. If, however, you don't stir the soup to make sure that all of the various ingredients have a good chance of ending up in the cup, you might just pour a cup of vegetable broth. Stirring the soup is a way to make sure that the sample you draw represents all the different parts of what is in the pot.

While a sample doesn't have to be very large to represent the population, the sample does need to be selected in a way which gives all members of the population the same chance of being chosen.

If 50% of the vegetable pieces in a huge pot are carrot cubes, the only way to know it for sure would be to examine and count the contents of the entire pot. Let's say we stir well and pour a cup of soup with 10 vegetable pieces in the cup. If sampling were a perfect process, we would get five carrot cubes out of ten pieces. What actually happens is that we usually get close to five carrot cubes-sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less and sometimes exactly five. It is possible, but really unlikely, to stir well and get no carrot pieces-or to get all carrot pieces. So we could get a rough estimate of the proportion of carrots in the pot from counting what is in the cup.

If we wanted a closer estimate, we would take a larger sample. Imagine if we stirred well and then poured out enough soup to contain 5,000 vegetable pieces. We probably wouldn't get exactly 2,500 carrot pieces, but the chance of getting no carrots at all is very remote. In fact, according to sampling theory and a very tasty laboratory test, 19 out of 20 times we take a well-stirred sample of soup containing 5,000 vegetable pieces, we get between 48% and 52% carrots. There is no guarantee that the percentage of carrots in a sample of this size will be between 48% and 52% (one time in 20 it will be outside this range, but usually not far outside this range). The same sampling errors apply to a representative sample of television viewers.
http://www.nielsenmedia.com/whatratingsmean/
Old 09-25-05, 03:51 PM
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5000 is plenty of people for a good sample--and indeed Nielsen has many more than that, since they have 5000 *households* in their sample, not people.

There are plenty of things wrong with the Nielsen ratings system, like the whole phenomenon of "sweeps months" which means Nielsen ends up concentrating its efforts on the least-representative programming. But the plain old sample size isn't one of them.
Old 09-25-05, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by milo bloom
I think with today's smarter cable and satellite boxes, it's foolish of networks to not put in place a way of allowing people to vote via their boxes.
Why even have them vote? Just have a way for the box to transmit what channel is on at what time. Probably much more accurate than having people try to remember what they watched when filling out those booklets. I did one once and didn't fill it out until the day before I sent it back so I probably didn't remember all the shows I watched while surfing channels.
Old 09-25-05, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel-A
A sample of 5000 representing 100million is bad statistics. They seriously need a new model.
No, actually it's pretty good statistics. You should have less than a 2% margin of error with those numbers. Most political public opinion polls only poll around 1,000 people.
Old 09-25-05, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by resinrats
Why even have them vote? Just have a way for the box to transmit what channel is on at what time. Probably much more accurate than having people try to remember what they watched when filling out those booklets. I did one once and didn't fill it out until the day before I sent it back so I probably didn't remember all the shows I watched while surfing channels.
That's the kind of thing 1st ammendment people would murder over. It is one thing volunteering your information, and completely another to have them tracking you a la big brother (heh heh).

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