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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TV Ratings at New Low; Time for New Measurements

May sweeps have been an epic disaster for the six major television networks, scoring record low ratings.

The most concerning number for television executives is that viewing is off 17 percent this year in the 18-49 male demographic, long considered a benchmark for advertisers. Even the top-ranked network, CBS, has an 11 percent decline in total viewers compared to last year.

There are several reasons for the decline: the writer's strike, summer is here and the emergence of Web and mobile video platforms which aren't tracking yet.

The simple fact is this: major networks have made their content available online through their own network sites, mobile television providers and aggregation services such as Hulu and iTunes; however, the tracking mechanisms weren't put into place to accurately provide data alongside traditional Nielsen ratings.

The networks have only recently dipped their toes in the digital waters and the traditional tracking world is still trying to wrap its hands around how to both track online viewing and combine that with the panel-based research done with television.

While comScore and Nielsen/Netratings agreed to a third-party audit of their tracking last year, Buzz Machine's Jeff Jarvis -- rightfully so -- presses that the way media in general tracks usage needs to be overhauled in a digital age.

Distribution methods and patterns have changed too radically to continue tracking with panel and estimation based research.

By Brad at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

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