Nielsen, America’s television ratings juggernaut, announced earlier this year that the monopolistic company will finally start to meter platforms beyond the television as the firm looks to add ratings numbers to tablet and computer viewings.
That’s finally with a capital F.
The official announcement goes into detail and claims that by Sept. 2013, just as the new fall television season starts, Nielsen will have the technology and hardware in place to gather viewing data beyond the typical broadcast spectrum.
For some, including myself, this announcement is too little, too late.
Since the 1950s, Nielsen has been the industry’s go-to force for gauging program performance and audience measures, and for the last 60 years, the company has evolved with the times as it has moved past cold calling and viewership diaries to digital meters to gather its analytics.
However, in the past two decades or so, as the introduction of mobile and broadcast-less viewing grew exponentially, Nielsen’s innovation in analytic gathering seemed to just stop.
Much like the major broadcast networks, Nielsen failed to adapt to the changing audience landscape and relied on archaic technology to do a cutting-edge job.
Yes, the announcement is great news for the television industry as studies show that programming consumption is up (television is ranked as America’s top form of media consumption) but ratings are down.
The only real answer to that conundrum is the rating’s agency failure to adapt to the modern viewer’s media-consumption habits.
So, who are the victims to this inability to adapt?
Not Nielsen, that’s for sure, the company, despite their flawed ratings process, had close to $6 billion in revenue last year.
The real victims are quality, younger-skewed television programs that may have been canned due to its progressive audiences.
The most prominent show that comes to mind is the recently cancelled “30 Rock.”
There is no denying that Tina Fey’s masterpiece was a prominent player in modern pop culture. In fact, even after its departure, the show still delivers solid numbers in syndication and, of course, provides endless quotable moments.
However, even with its cultural prominence and cult-like following, the show was cancelled due to dwindling viewership.
Has anyone stopped to think that the viewership didn’t, in fact, “dwindle” but instead jumped platforms?
Platforms that Nielsen so easily ignored, nonetheless.
With that same theory in place, I suspect that other critical darlings like ABC’s “Happy Endings” and FOX’s “The Mindy Project” are victims of the same ratings mistake.
While it looks like Nielsen is well on its way to correcting this error, it’s a shame to see what content had to be sacrificed in the process.
In the words of Eric Quizon, son of comedian Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon Sr., “Comedy is dead, but long live comedy.”