Bad news. Your favorite television show has been cancelled. Apparently, its ratings were too low. So what is a rating anyway? And how are they measured? TV is measured in ratings and shares. TV Ratings measure the percentage of people with TVs in your area watching a program. A share, is the percentage of people with TVs turned on watching a show. Sheer magnitude and cost, don’t make measuring the 114 million TV watching households a viable option. Plus, not everyone wants to share what they’re watching so privacy is a concern. Because of this, Nielsen conducts statistic samples of TV watchers, using a relatively small number of households to represent the entire national TV watching population. These samples are measured through diaries kept by Nielsen families and through portable people meters, not to be confused with purple people eaters, that track programming electronically.
The results are important to advertisers, since they use the sum of ratings points for a period of time, called the gross rating point, along with reach, frequency, and formulas to determine when and where to place ads for a client’s marketing needs.
Interesting facts about the TV ratings system:
- Most of the year, only households in the top 56 of the total 210 markets are measured. During the four sweeps periods all the markets are measured.
- With the popularity of DVRs networks now measure ratings with services that can measure program viewership for up to 7 days from its original airdate.
- Cable shows have considerably lower ratings than broadcast shows; but recently AMC’s “The Walking Dead” made history as the first cable show with consistently higher ratings than broadcast shows. Ads for the show are the most expensive currently on TV, with a 2015 Ad package averaging over $500,000.