The power of Neilsen Ratings
November 19, 2004 5:40 PM   Subscribe

I just got a Neilsen ratings box two weeks ago. Just how much power am I weilding here? Can i prevent the cancellation of shows?

I live in Toronto and I've been watching a lot of CBC hoping that does something. They don't know about the DVD player so when I watch a movie i just switch to it.

incidentally I was paid for accepting this because I don't have cable. Supposedly the money is for buying cable, but I can do what ever I want with it.
posted by joelf to Society & Culture (8 answers total)
don't get your hopes up. I got a Neilsen box back in '99 (NDA is over, thankyouverymuch) and thought I actually stood a chance at shaping the face of public tv. I decided that it just kept me from watching terrible shows while drunk. I used to actually set the TV and VCR to record the shows I liked, and some of them still got cancelled. watch what you'd like to watch, but setting any grand expectations for yourself about how you're influencing modern tv can be pretty disheartening.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 6:54 PM on November 19, 2004

My husband and I believe to this day that we are responsible for the unaccountable success of "Monk" in its first run. We both liked the show, but for some reason were unable to watch it together, so we think the Nielsen box thought that it was incredibly popular.

Good show, but Tony Shalhoub is caviare to the general.

I think we freaked the box out, actually, because we're rich white people with Ph. D.s who basically only watched "Star Trek," Spanish-language soap operas, French TV news, "Monk," and "Jerry Springer".
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:15 PM on November 19, 2004

Back in the day Salon ran an article about someone doing the same thing with their Nielsen box. As you may guess, it had a negligible impact.
posted by O9scar at 7:51 PM on November 19, 2004

joelf, how did you get picked?
posted by Jim Jones at 10:55 PM on November 19, 2004

Response by poster: How I was picked: Canada has a giant hat they draw names from called the census.

According to the person that came to the house, we were picked at random from census Canada. This person told us we were the "purest source" in our area. Apparently we had the exact demographics they were looking for. ( I didn't bother to mention none of my roommates or I were living in the house when the census was taken.)

I talked to my friend, our old roommate, and apparently there was a Nielsen box in our house a couple of years ago. They got rid of it because it's totally annoying. You have to press OK when you settle on a channel and log in and out. To install it they had to open the TV and solder bits on the board. Might be worth the price if you can get money out of them though!
posted by joelf at 11:19 PM on November 19, 2004

Just because some of your favorite shows get canceled anyway, don't think that being a Nielsen family doesn't mean you're having an influence. Relative to the number of viewers who are affected by the ratings, your influence is huge.
posted by bingo at 6:45 AM on November 20, 2004

They don't have to open the TV if you have cable--they jack the box in to the cable-to-TV connection. And they give you $25 every now and then, and also $50 if you buy a new TV, I think.

The "OK" business is pretty simple.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:18 AM on November 20, 2004

Don't listen to the naysayers. They're just jealous of your new GODLIKE status. But you are aware that the Neilsen box contains a tiny camera that records your every move, right? I was once offered a box but declined because I felt it might put a damper on "Naked Monday Movie Night."
posted by naomi at 9:30 AM on November 20, 2004

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