Ratings explained?

I wish I had a dollar for everytime somebody asked me how the ratings worked.

I also wish I had a clearcut answer instead of replying, “how long do you have?”

The truth is it’s a highly complicated, highly scientific process underwritten by millions of dollars, and which pertains directly and indirectly to more millions and more industry jobs the land over.

The last time I asked a former survery participant on radio about their actual survey habits it was like a small nuclear bomb going off. Networks and media organisations were hitting the panic button as if national secrets had been leaked. They were shocked to hear someone admitting their accuracy wasn’t entirely dedicated. Surprise, surprise. It was the very reason I asked the question.

People live and die by this information. Network execs, publicists, advertisers, critics, on-air talent, producers. This very website also places the results high on the priority list.

Cable TV of course takes a convenient view of the figures. They focus on the total subscription audience, reminding us that they have a slew of channels in limited homes. Then they’re quick to boast of any lift.

One of the better explanations of the ratings process was published in this week’s Age Newspaper. It maps out the food-chain of figure usage, together with any inevitable loopholes. Doubtless survey organisations would tell us they factor in for “plus / minus” inaccuracies. It also includes our growing alternatives including VCR/DVD-R recording, Foxtel IQ, legal and illegal downloads and other platforms.

There is also a second, amusing comment on “life as a demographic.”

I’m linking them here so that anyone who ever asks me again is going to get shoved in their direction.

If you have ever been part of a TV ratings survey leave a comment!

One Comment:

  1. maaaaaaaaaaany years ago… back in the old diary days.. our household took part in a TV ratings survey.. our reward for filling in those diairies for every quarter hour, day in day out for 4 weeks, and hence doing our bit to help keep the Packers and 7’s and 10’s in business.. was a faux-Tupperware lunchbox.. that was it! Perhaps when they saw that we ticked that we watched “227” they thought that’s all we deserved (and who can blame them)

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