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October 7, 2015

Nielsen takes notice of college students

by Brad Linder, posted Feb 12th 2007 1:22PM
NielsenNielsen has begun adding college students that live in dorms to its ratings. In practical terms, this means 130 drunk kids will represent about 2 million actual college students, and have an inordinately large influence on the television landscape.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some shows have seen a huge boost due to the inclusion of college student data. Comedy Central's Drawn Together saw a 60% ratings bump, which shouldn't be surprising, as I'm not sure anyone who doesn't live in a dorm watches the show. Of course, Nielsen estimated 163,000 additional people were watching the show based on the fact that 12 of those college kids were tuning in. Yay statistical sampling.

Nielsen gathers data from about 10,000 households and uses that data to extrapolate what the rest of the country is watching. While that system probably worked pretty well thirty years ago when there were only a handful of networks, viewers today can choose from hundreds of different channels.

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PS: Of course, eventually we'll be 20 Minutes Into The Future and ratings will be instantaneous and measure everyone.

February 12 2007 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I TiVo Drawn Together and I think it is hilarious. :-) Very, very, VERY wrong - but still hilarious.

I think Nielsen's system is out-dated. TiVo uses 20,000 boxes for their ratings info already. There really isn't any reason they couldn't crunch the numbers from all 4.5 million boxes, except it would take a lot of computing power - and there is no real reason to do so when a smaller sample works. But, because of the diversity of content today, I think we need larger samples to be more representative. As TiVo gets into cable boxes that'll give them a broader base. Nielsen needs to do deals with cable MSOs to sample from the boxes, satellite boxes, etc. Instead of putting their own boxes into homes, which is an antiquated approach, use the millions of data collection points already in homes.

February 12 2007 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom WP

As someone who lives in a dorm and watches more tv than anyone I know, I feel like I have a right to ask... Where's my box?? TV-savvy students given this type of power could singlehandedly save shows that are failing, and instead they are wasting their precious statistics on Drawn Together? I've never met one college student who liked that show (though I've never met a non-student who liked it, either). Give me a box! Let me save Veronica Mars, Friday Night Lights, and all of the other shows that intelligent college kids actually enjoy.

February 12 2007 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

[insert obligatory Family Guy FCC episode reference here]

February 12 2007 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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