Nielsen: Big Families, Hispanics, Not Good at Pushing Buttons

Last Updated Apr 30, 2009 2:26 PM EDT

If you read this post the other day about the controversy over Nielsen's attempts to measure online and TV consumption by its people meter families, you know I questioned whether individuals in people meter families really push those personal viewing buttons on their remotes so that Nielsen can sync up viewing data with the age and sex of the viewer.

Now, even Nielsen says many people meter families aren't particularly good at pressing those buttons. Therefore, it says the ratings it's been giving for national TV are 8 percent less than they would be if compliance was better. When you stop to consider that ad dollars for the broadcast networks are down -- and due to drop even further, in what most expect will be a depressed upfront market -- that's not good news.

The worst offenders among the button non-pushers? Large families, and Hispanics, though Nielsen says that as it does more research into the results of its compliance research, it may find that those findings change. Of course, because everything Nielsen does is controversial, not everyone is happy with how the compliance research is being done either. The reason is the same one that is dogging Nielsen's attempts to measure online and TV consumption: that it's all being conducted among the same sample, and therefore might alter that sample's TV viewing habits. Or something like that. My thinking is this: what good does it do to measure compliance of button-pushing among families who aren't being relied on to push buttons in the first place? I'll refrain here from any further statements about how these controversies push my buttons. Oops! I just did.
  • Catharine Taylor

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