Dear Diary, Is This Still The Way They Do TV Ratings?

Here’s an amusing article out of today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, entitled “Confessions of a Nielsen Family,” in which columnist John Horton recounts his family’s week of watching TV and writing down what they watched.

Seven days of chronicling viewing habits taught me this: The remote control is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands, and we have 10 of them between me; my wife, Debbie; my daughter, Lindsay, 7; and my sons, Brian, who’s almost 5, and Jack, 1.
Where it went wrong, I can’t say. When our house first received the diary, I thought about clicking on some high-quality, educational programming just to encourage the networks to air more of it. Maybe linger a few hours on the History Channel, or get lost on Animal Planet.

I seem to recall my family was asked to do this 20 years ago. But with billions of ad dollars at stake, and with advertisers questioning the efficacy of network and cable TV, is this still the primary way they measure the TV audience? Can’t they get any more precise info without asking busy, random families to write stuff down?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.