Saturday, June 22, 2013

TV Ratings

Having just finished the season finale of my favorite TV show, Hannibal, I was left thinking of the whole ratings game. Hannibal, while a superb program, stank at the ratings. So much so that it was, for a time, in mortal danger of not being given a second season. It's not that people weren't watching it. It was just that people weren't watching it where it mattered: the small screen, where the Nielsen Company can gather data regarding audience viewership, and where advertisers can shove their products up your noses. People were downloading it through The Pirate Bay because those who belong to the wired community don't like commercial breaks and arranging their lives around TV schedules. Some of us even wait for a season of our favorite TV show to end so we can download all of its episodes and then watch them in one Saturday of unhealthy snacks and drinks while percolating in our sofas. The point is, people who do not get counted as viewers do watch TV shows, making ratings an inaccurate gauge of a show's popularity. Why do networks continue relying on this model? Because people who don't watch commercials don't count. It's not really about how many people are watching. It's about how many people the advertisements are reaching. Even then, viewership trends are only collected from a tiny sample of the population. Really, my viewing a TV show or not won't affect its ratings since I'm not part of the survey. Chances are, you aren't either. Ratings is the imaginary coin of the network wars. In the Philippines, for example, what TV networks with their multi-million-peso TV shows are clobbering each other over are the viewing habits of less than 2,000 households with with AGB Nielsen's TV meters.

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