Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007, complaints about Nielsens

The more I think about the cancellation of Jericho, and every other show I watched that lasted one season or less, I am convinced that the Nielsens are skewed.

I don't have digital TV (although I know I'll need to invest in a new set soon), premium cable or Tivo. My Mac computer is 5 years old and I just learned that it doesn't have enough memory for me to even invest in additional Mac upgrade software to install it. So I don't have the computer equipment to download TV shows off the Internet, nor do I feel the need to. I almost always watch a program "live" unless I have other plans, at which point I set my old-fashioned VCR to do the work. Nor do I care that I don't have this equipment.

Only once did I tape Jericho the entire time it was on this past season, and I also think I did it once for Ugly Betty. Other than that, all I've taped is older stuff that aired during weekdays when I was at work or old movies overnight.

There have been only a few times in my life that I watched what was at the top of Nielsen ratings. I'm 46, which means that I was born in 1961 and so I am older than most of the Jericho Internet posters. Although I remember watching morning and afternoon children's programs in the 1960s, I didn't start watching prime time on a regular basis until I started fourth grade, which was in 1970. I vividly remember watching The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family when they originally aired after that. Yet, ironically, most people don't realize that those two shows were never in the Top 10. They hung around longer because there were so few options for TV 37 years ago.

These are the highly rated programs that I watched when they first aired:
From the 70s:
Roots and Roots II
The TV debuts of Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws and Earthquake (remember, they had never appeared before on the small screen because there was no media for that)
The Mary Tyler Moore finale
The first few seasons of The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie
I didn't watch All in the Family, because both my mother and I hated the annoying characters. I am too young to have watched Brian's Song and the finale of The Fugitive when they aired originally. I only have vague memories of the Apollo programs.

From the 80s:
The MASH finale
The Day After
Almost all of St. Elsewhere and Family Ties
I didn't watch Dallas, Dynasty, The Cosby Show, etc.--they simply were not to my taste.

By the 90s most everyone had acquired cable and VCRs, so viewing got more fragmented. I didn't watch Friends, Seinfeld, ER, etc.--again, they were not to my taste.

As for the millennium, well, I go to the movies pretty often. There have been only a few shows in the past seven years that I've watched that made it past a second season, and that is a discussion for another day.

I have been convinced for years that the folks chosen for Nielsen ratings boxes are planned in advance. As you can see, almost never in my entire life have my viewing choices matched that of the Nielsens. I think that whoever or whoevers operate the company choose persons/families in advance that it thinks will like the shows that its employees and managers personally like. Or the networks pay the Nielsens to choose families that watch program that the networks themselves want to succeed.

I do remember one week in 1969? 1970? when my mother got a little calendar in the mail that I think was from Nielsen. It asked her to monitor all the shows that we watched in a week--my dad, my mom, me and my two younger sisters. I wonder if her list at the end of the week matched up with what everyone else who received a calendar that week. I also remember her getting paid maybe a dollar to fill it out. And I wonder if Nielsen still does the temporary weekly calendars.

I know this sounds very paranoid/conspiracy theory, but it has been going on far too long to be a coincidence. After 35-plus years of reading about the Nielsens, I think I'm a pretty good example of the person whom Nielsen chooses to ignore.

1 comment:

skippercollector said...

I've found a link to comments by someone else who is a female viewer, whose age is close to mine, and who is uninterested in most of the really popular series. I hope the link works.