Nielsen Ratings are an audience measurement system, owned by the Nielsen Company, that provides networks, channels, production companies and advertisers, viewer analytics for TV shows.   Traditionally, Nielsen  Meters would be placed on selected homes’ TV sets to track which programs people were watching during primetime morning, midday and evening hours.  This information is important to networks because the more popular a show is, the higher advertising rates a network can charge advertisers for commercials.

With the advent of Netflix’s’ “all at once” releasing, and the use of recording devices such as TiVo, the method of tracking a show’s viewership has changed.  Nielsen meters measurements are now augmented by data from cable “boxes” and DVRs.   Nielsen now tracks, for instance, whether a show was viewed “live” or on DVR and whether or not the commercials were skipped, a data set of obvious importance to advertisers.  Those data, along with other indicators such as audience interaction with Social Media while viewing a show, paints a highly detailed portrait of the viewers, especially important for producers and distributors of so-called “niche” programming.

– Carol Basuru/Jim Sayegh