What to Read This Weekend: How Nielsen Works

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If you’re only going to read one article this weekend, then let it be this neat magazine-style story about the Nielsen ratings system from iO9. The article features lots and lots of Star Trek pictures (it’s a Sci-Fi blog, after all), as well as some neat nuggets like this first hand-report from a former Nielsen family member:

“We weren’t to tell people or accept gifts or otherwise be persuaded to watch a certain show… We did make sure to watch Buffy and Angel in syndicated repeats, and made a special effort to watch the first season of the Venture Bros, which did need just another household or two to put it over the top. And it worked.”

iO9 writer Charlie Jane Anders makes a notes that Nielsen’s traditional TV ratings system is eventually going to be obsolete with the growing importance of online video, while at the same time putting things into perspective (people watch a lot of Hulu, but they still watch a whole lotta more broadcast and cable TV). What’s missing is the fact that online video measurement is in itself still an evolving science — something that became evident earlier this year when both CBS and ESPN3 claimed to have shown the Internet’s biggest sporting event.

Still, the article is a great read, if only for the fact that it really, really makes you want to have one of those slightly retro-futuristic looking black Nielsen measurement boxes in your living room.

Want to learn more about the future of media measurement in an online television world? Then make sure to check out our NewTeeVee Live conference, coming up on November 10, where we will have none other than Nielsen’s EVP of media audience measurement Matt O’Grady talking about these issues.

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