David and I recently participating in a week long Nielson Rating survey. We had to fill out a survey every day for a week saying what we watched from cable TV and when. It did have a way to record information for shows that we were watching out of sync with when it actually aired, but the survey just seemed to show a lack of acknowledgment of advancements in technology. The basics of what the Nielson rating is tracking is simple with whether you have a tv, have cable, have HBO, have a DVR, etc. Then it asked whether you had a VCR or DVD player, okay I get it, but what about including Blu-Ray under DVD. Then it asks if you have a landline, but does not ask about other forms of communication. I am probably missing something about how Nielson ratings are supposed to work, but just the way the form was put together made it feel like Nielson was not recognizing the way that we consume media now a days.
To start I know I might be showing my level of privilege, but DVD players have become ridiculously cheap and I am not even sure you could find an actual VCR anymore. If the idea is to try and view all options that people are using to consume media then shouldn’t we at least include Blu-Ray. Then there is also the fact that television is not necessarily the way that people consume TV. David and I do have basic cable and HBO, but then we also do Hulu Plus. Part of the reason is that there are some shows that we would not be able to either buy online or watch on Hulu Plus, so we do the combination. The big thing is that we almost never watch a show when it airs anymore, but watch it either on DVR, Hulu Plus, or buy online. I do not know how else things are tracked, but it just seems to really get a picture of what people are watching that what someone actually watches on TV is not the whole picture.
It would almost be better to have someone record all the ways they consume media. There is watching stuff on Hulu Plus, watching on Netflix, watching on DVR, and so much more. If people buy a subscription on Amazon Video or iTunes does that make a different impression. I do not know about how important ratings are to the survival of TV shows, but the Nielson system does not seem to show the reality of what people are watching. At the same time if the tv channels do not get money from people watching in these other formats, then it makes sense that it is outdated because the way they get money is based on that system. How do you change a system that might be entirely based on an outdated mode of consumption?