Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What to make of the Nielsens

There was a bit of an argument in an earlier comment thread on the importance of the demos in the Nielsen ratings. For those who don't follow this stuff, demos in TV usually refers to viewers in the 25-54-year-old age group, although at the network level, the 18-34-year-old age bracket is the important one.

I actually find the demos argument pretty interesting. On the one hand, I think in the broadest sense - the sense that makes sense for a newspaper story - using the 12+ numbers is the most reasonable measure.

I mean, political operatives obsess over demos, too, but everybody's vote counts the same in the end, right?

On the other hand, this isn't an election and, in fact, everybody's vote doesn't count the same in the end. So, a 22-year-old male's viewing habits are far more important than his 58-year-old father's TV preferences, because advertisers want to reach those younger eyeballs.

Whether that strategy itself makes sense is another matter, but it's the reality we're dealing with. So, while I think the broadest measure remains the most important one for a newspaper story, I think it's certainly worth mentioning important trends in the demos, because it is those trends that determine which stations are financially successful and which shows get renewed or canceled.

The Gazette doesn't subscribe to Nielsen, though, so I rely on the stations to provide those numbers and to make the case for their own ratings. And, in this instance, KOAA was still No. 1 in most or all of the demos, so I didn't dig into it as much as I might have otherwise.


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