logo  
Sign in or Register

Already a member?

Sign in

Or sign in with your account on:

Not a member yet?

Register
    

Are Nielsen Ratings Still Relevant?

  +Follow October 17, 2013 9:23AM
Share:
Tickers Mentioned:

As football season hits its stride and the World Series premieres, media analysts continue to cite one metric when judging the success (or failure) of these media events: the Nielsen Ratings. Developed in the 1950 to measure viewership of television, Nielsen ratings rely on information provided by the several thousand “Nielsen families” that fill out “paper diaries” about their viewing habits. The operators of the Nielsen ratings system extrapolate from the information supplied by the Nielsen families to estimate the number of nationwide viewers of any given program.

If the system seems imprecise or outdated, it is. But it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

How Imprecise are Nielsen Ratings?

Think of it this way. There are 25,000 Nielsen families out of 114.5 million television-owning households, or .02183 percent. Nielsen also fails to account people watching in a group setting, which has normally skewed the Nielsen ratings of “television events” like the Super Bowl.

Contrast the Nielsen ratings with the internal numbers the widly popular streaming service Netflix Inc. (NFLX) logs about its customer’s viewing habits.  Netflix knows exactly how many people are watching, to the person. To be sure, a little chicanery concerning people sharing Netflix accounts skews the numbers slightly. But the sample size is exponentially more accurate than, say, .02183 percent.

Nielsen has been attempting to rectify this streaming shortfall, and in February announced they’d begin incorporating streaming viewership into their counters in September. It still doesn’t account for everything, however.

The DVR Issue

Cultural events like Breaking Bad or sporting events, most viewers aren’t terribly concerned with watching a show the exact moment it was released. This has further affected Nielsen’s ability to accurately gauge viewership of particular shows, as many viewers choose to DVR shows and watch them at their own leisure – maybe even the next week, after the numbers are already logged (Nielsen only counts up to seven days after an initial airing.) Watching shows long after the fact is becoming increasingly popular, especially among viewers 18-49.

That age range, known colloquially as “the demo,” is the area most coveted by ad buyers. A show that logs a high percentage of viewers in the demo can charge ad buyers substantially more. And ad buyers have a vested interest in paying less. Hence, Nielsen stays outdated.

It’s All About the Demo

The reason Nielsen remains entrenched in its archaic model is pretty simple: a more accurate model would show how many young people are still watching shows. It’s not hard to see which shows are getting plenty of attention. Look at total show mentions on Twitter, for instance. That number, while not pegging exactly how many people watched a show on airing, does provide an exact, specific number of how many people are discussing a show.

Twitter mentions are chock full with shows popular with young people that have conspicuously low Nielsen ratings.  Take the Twitter mentions of the week of Oct 7-13:

1. The Walking Dead (AMC, Sun.)
Tweets: 1,172,000
Audience: 7,491,200

2. Glee (Fox, Thurs.)
Tweets: 822,100
Audience: 5,167,500

3. American Horror Story: Coven (FX, Wed.)
Tweets: 435,600
Audience: 4,623,800

4. Catfish: TV Show (MTV, Tue.)
Tweets: 743,600
Audience: 3,544,300

5. The X-Factor (Fox, Wed.)
Tweets: 422,900
Audience: 2,393,300

Of those five shows, only one, the Walking Dead, cracked the Top 20 in Nielsen ratings that week.

According to Pew Research Center, as of May 2013 over two-thirds of US Twitter users are in the demo. While the number of mentions and subsequent audience reach don’t peg exactly the number of views, they give us a pretty good idea of the shows the demo cares about. And it’s markedly different than Nielsen.

Why Ignore the Demo?

Failing to account for streaming, Netflix, and other non-traditional viewing habits does one thing: under-represent the shows young people actually watch and care about. Certain shows that are popular with the demo but don’t score good Nielsen numbers – Community, Mad Men, Parks and Recreation to name a few – can still be advertised on cheaply. Ad buyers can simply tout low Nielsen numbers, even when they know the viewership is higher.

Of course, as the sea change towards online continues unabated, it might just be a moot point. But while traditional media still has control, Nielsen with all its flaws will probably continue to reign. Just don’t think it means what young people are really watching is being accurately counted.

 

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.


Signup for our daily newsletter and get our best articles emailed right to you!

Results for NFLX
Carolyn B Miciano
21 Dec 14 09:56:06
Free course on Options trade simulation http://t.co/kahUGBoVzz $NFLX $PCLN $LNKD
rdubroff
21 Dec 14 09:49:32
@smartertrader $GPRO $GS $NFLX, $PCLN, $V. Last week was Samazing and now loaded for more. Thanks Sam. Merry Christmas.
OTPicks.com
21 Dec 14 09:37:19
http://t.co/NYsxQOU64w occupyinvestor: $NFLX been holding Calls from last Wed... Video: occu http://t.co/5lSmKW79eW http://t.co/NYsxQOU64w
iHangout
21 Dec 14 09:25:09
occupyinvestor: ALERTS, HOT STOCKS & CHARTS: $NFLX been holding Calls from last Wed... Video http://t.co/uRPmJoD4sC
CashRocket
21 Dec 14 09:24:10
$NFLX closed Friday with #VSBD1 but unfortunately has a lot of technical resistance to clear. 21EMA is a biggie. http://t.co/U4iPpl3cks
occupy
21 Dec 14 09:21:37
$NFLX been holding Calls from last Wed... Video shows what coming... https://t.co/GbznBAbcgv http://t.co/KyjR8wx84r
Dan
21 Dec 14 09:18:51
$NFLX high open interest range is 320.00 to 380.00 for option expiration 12/20/2014. http://t.co/2GTf9eu4dI
IH News Desk
21 Dec 14 09:09:03
$SLV Company Info Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 11:11:15 AM $LUV $DD $SAVE $NFLX http://t.co/guXpkBl5ff
Dan
21 Dec 14 09:08:02
$NFLX Max Pain = 345.00. Maturity = 12/20/2014. Previous close = 340.12. http://t.co/yUBAzaGt19
Matt
21 Dec 14 09:07:51
$NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus: http://t.co/pcX7h8OQ8c via @YouTube
Maleah
21 Dec 14 09:06:15
http://t.co/tdDPA62UeP <-- how to escape the 9-5 grind by learning to stock trade, knowledge is power $RUSS $UGAZ $OIL $FSLR $NFLX
iHangout
21 Dec 14 08:43:09
occupyinvestor: $NFLX Netflix Inc.: Holding Jan 2 $350 Calls, adding $360 tomorrow http://t.co/lBnAgSl73y
occupy
21 Dec 14 08:22:03
@iShares $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 08:08:45
@CBOE $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
ProTradersNews
21 Dec 14 07:58:02
$NFLX $AMC: Will AMC Be the Netflix of Multiplexes? http://t.co/IVcya4Ly1M http://t.co/NeokTWYhon
PolgarStocks
21 Dec 14 07:53:07
$ANGI Short Sales Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 10:07:16 AM $GIS $ROM $NFLX $VXX http://t.co/hqAoVW4DCz
Rosner Stocks
21 Dec 14 07:49:39
$XOM Short Sales Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 09:59:23 AM $UGL $NFLX $NG $GIS http://t.co/x8VvsXo0I7
Gr8wklyoptions
21 Dec 14 07:37:58
$AAPL $AMZN $BABA $BIDU $FB $GILD $GMCR $GOOG $GPRO $GS $IWM $LNKD $NFLX $PCLN $QQQ $SBUX $SPY $TSLA $TWTR $USO $V $VXX $YHOO
Carolyn B Miciano
21 Dec 14 07:32:35
What to watch for during Options expiration http://t.co/ra7B9jUqGV $NFLX $PCLN $TSLA
PolgarStocks
21 Dec 14 06:52:11
$UUP Filings Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 09:07:17 AM $BJRI $NFLX $ADMD $TQQQ http://t.co/2VwHnVfjPc
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:48:22
$NFLX Traders... Do NOT Miss This! $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:40:20
@MaverickFunding $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:37:06
@Chasing__Stars $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:33:51
LAST CHANCE OFFER TO MY FOLLOWERS!!! DON'T MISS OUT!!! $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
Stephen s
21 Dec 14 06:32:19
RT @rosnerstocks: $XLI Stock Message Board Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 05:59:23 AM $NFLX $MYEC $TNA $EFA http://t.co/HpQbqzOuAL
Carolyn B Miciano
21 Dec 14 06:23:34
Advanced Iron condor techniques http://t.co/PJ3DqvLhNz $NFLX $PCLN $TSLA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:19:14
@GoldmanSachs $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
Juan Doe
21 Dec 14 06:18:44
$NFLX - NFLX - https://t.co/veQKcs20dr
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:18:20
@gurutr8s $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:17:44
@snn_team $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:17:14
@toddpace $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:16:38
@Robert4RE $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:15:36
@StockTradingInv $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:14:48
@SullyCNBC $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
TV_Trading Ideas
21 Dec 14 06:14:07
NFLX $NFLX http://t.co/2RR0KxLQsY
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:10:20
@FacebookTraders $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:09:42
@caroltheva $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:08:14
@Bidnessetc $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:07:43
@StockBrain2010 $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:07:00
@TraderHMS $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:06:30
@PairsGuy $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:05:56
@Burns277 $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:05:25
@60minTrader $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
IH News Desk
21 Dec 14 06:05:10
$TWTR Stock Forum Updated Sunday, December 21, 2014 08:11:15 AM $NFLX $RIG $XLE $YUM http://t.co/XXdHfMfPIh
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:05:01
@AceGreen1989 $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:04:31
@stocknews99 $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:04:02
@neoxtaichi $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:03:40
@miketyose $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:03:10
@MW_NFLX $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
occupy
21 Dec 14 06:02:27
@bespokeinvest $NFLX Here Is Your Christmas Bonus Trade https://t.co/IT7tg7Z8MA
				
				
  +Follow October 17, 2013 9:23AM
Share:

Comments

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

About us

Equities.com is the most advanced interactive online social ecosystem for the financial industry, serving as a resource center and next-generation communication platform that connects self-directed investors with public issuers, market experts, and professional service providers and vendors. Registered members can leverage our exclusive proprietary research tools such as the Small-Cap Stars, which outperformed 90% of all small-cap mutual funds, and robust do-it-yourself E.V.A. research reports. The Equities.com Issuer Dashboard is the ideal tool to communicate and manage investor awareness campaigns to the investment community, as well as to access valuable resources to help your company grow.

Market Data powered by QuoteMedia.
Copyright © QuoteMedia. Data delayed 15 minutes unless otherwise indicated. Terms of Use.