Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jericho: Mysterious Nielsen's

"Nielsen Media Research has long been that sleepy and mysterious enterprise -- occasionally vilified, frequently cajoled and periodically challenged by would-be competitors -- whose findings determine whether TV shows live or die.

Lately, however, the company has roused itself to pursue grander ambitions, just at the point where exploding media options and the hunger for easily digestible data suggest the TV industry might benefit if Nielsen stuck to its knitting."

"In an age of instant statistical gratification, network execs are discovering that patience is now much more than a virtue -- it's a fact of life.

While box office prognosticators these days can hazard a reliable guess as to a pic's perf after just one or two East Coast showings, TV's rapidly evolving distribution landscape is increasingly turning the ratings race into something of a guessing (and waiting) game.

New viewing options such as DVRs, streaming videos and instant downloads that allow auds to watch shows on their own timetable are making it harder than ever to figure out just how many people are tuning in to a show -- particularly new series. And it has become easier than ever for nets to spin Nielsen numbers and hide behind more marginally performing shows."

"Because commercial-minute ratings don't mean much to the average viewer, Nielsen and the networks still are paying attention to program ratings. Those numbers give the earliest determination of whether a show is doing well, which is crucial for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the public relations battle the networks always fight."

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