For the next week, I'm a Nielsen family

This should be interesting. Nielsen contacted me by phone about a month ago and asked if I’d fill out viewing diaries for them for a week. I said yes, and my week starts on Thursday. I’ll watch a few repeats of shows I love that I’d normally skip (Supernatural, for example), but otherwise won’t alter my viewing habits. If your favorite summer reality TV show gets cancelled, feel free to blame me.

Do you get any kind of compensation for doing this?

Five whole dollars! But the power to impact ratings on a national level is more satisfying.

C’mon, watch nothing but reruns of I Love Lucy. You know you want to.

Wait do they still use ‘diaries’ people fill out?

They do, yes. While they’ve apparently started doing electronic set monitoring, the old school diaries are still used more often.

No wonder Community was canceled from the dinosaur network.

Wow, that’s really cool! Did you apply or did they just call you out of nowhere? How does that even work?

I got a Nielsen packet unsolicited a few months ago, complete with the five dollars. Was excited for a while, then looked at the diary and realized how much bookkeeping they expected from me, and said fuck this. Their entire tracking model is structured around people who sit down, tune to a channel, and watch, whereas 99% of my viewing is via the DVR. Time-shifting is only grudgingly acknowledged in a tiny section data entry section in the back of the diary. It’s seriously antiquated, and I can’t imagine it doesn’t negatively impact their ability to gather useful data from the most economically valuable demographics. If they had an app where I could just punch in what I watched every day, I’d have been far more likely to participate.

What I don’t get is why Nielsen even exists anymore. My cable company already knows exactly what I watch and when I watch it.

Fwiw the cable company knows what your tuner is set to, but not when human eyes are watching it.

Last time we were asked, I just flipped to the DVD section and everything I watched ended up there.

Wow. I remember those diaries. I can’t believe they still use them.

Our family did the Nielsen thing for a whole year when I was a kid. At first we thought it was cool to fill out the entries as we watched, but by the end we were literally just filling them in with made-up bullshit because it was such a chore to do it the right way.

I did the radio version for almost a year for Arbitron a few years ago. No diaries, but I had to remember to carry around this little pager-like thing that listened for subliminal tones they put out over the radio. It was kind of a pain in the ass, but we were getting like $150 a month.

They just called out of nowhere. I have no idea how my household was selected.

If a show has a viewership of 5 million or whatever, can you calculate how many viewers your particular survey was worth – do you know how many total Nielson surveys there are, etc?

Think of the power. You deciding to watch something is like 1000 people (or more?) doing it.

A few years ago i filled out my diary… with nothing but one hour of Austin City Limits on a Saturday. Then sealed and diligently mailed in my survey.

They must not have believed me because i never received my $5.

I got the $5 first, with the diary pack. I guess my name inspires trust.

I like the idea of being a thousand people not watching Two Broke Girls.

“Man, this new guy sure likes baseball.”

can you do anything to bring back cheers, dave? a full anniversary reunion season, if they ask

there’s $5 in it if you can

I did that a few years back, but they just monitored all my receivers and whatnot electronically.

I wouldn’t take the time to fill out a diary, but I don’t mind them seeing what I’m watching.

Why only a week? Don’t they wish to know about a program’s retention ability?