Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It's Official: No One Watches TV on the TV Anymore

It's a good thing TV ratings aren't the stock market, because we would all be screwed. Like, more than we are now. This series of comparisons between today's hits and yesteryear's flops is pretty shocking. Did you know that the same number of people watching the premiere of New Girl (enough to get it picked up for a full season) watched Who Wants to Marry My Dad? in August of '03? And that same number is smaller than the average audience for My So-Called Life, prompting its cancellation?

Obviously ratings are lower now across the board because of DVR and the Internet – and networks showing episodes online even before they air on TV probably won't help bring those TV ratings up. But if everyone knows that the way we access our entertainment is different now than it was ten years ago, why, why, why are we still using the old ratings as a way to gauge who watches what? It makes no sense. And every time I think about it all the blood goes to my face and I just want to go beat up some dweeby Nielsen families. And bring a camera with me and tape it and watch it later, on my computer.

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  • Dan Spivak@facebook

    The TV executives will try to keep this archaic system alive as long as possible. It makes great fiscal sense for them. As an internet marketer it seems crazy to me that advertisers are still willing to pay for ad space with no way of tracking the effectiveness!

  • Crackerjacker

    While I feel a pang of concern for those who work at the lower limits of TV production(Pretty much everyone up to and including actors and directors who haven't hit it big yet), for how their future will become uncertain, this news doesn't shock me at all.

    What still shocks me is how uninterested the media conglomerates that own the TV networks are at actually doing anything about it. Much in the same way as the music industry being stung by the internet in the days of digital music's arrival on computers and PMPs, the TV industry's only answer to both changing tastes and the profligacy of new ways to enjoy the content, was to cut costs and put out a higher concentration of dreck(Specifically "reality" TV). The problems with both industries are very similar – they both grew too top-heavy with management positions and weighed down with investments they didn't need, in the face of a customer base that was changing wildly from the success stories of the 80's and 90's.

    Rather than remodel their businesses to create new revenue, TV networks seem more interested in desperately trying to wring out the stone ever more, while waiting for someone else to make the major step that will FORCE them to become something different. Terrifically disappointing, but hopefully it isn't completely terminal.

    • annev6

      @Crackerjacker It won't happen until the cable companies really start losing subscribers, in my opinion. I've been streaming TV and movies over my DSL line for two years now, and have never missed having cable. I just one day realized there was no point in paying $120 a month for a cable package that I only used to watch a select few taped shows that I could get for free online. I see it as only a matter of time before this catches on. Or maybe I'll just be that weird lady without cable forever, I don't know! But I think it more likely people will slowly realize how pointless DVR really is when you have internet.

  • Jason Farr@facebook

    I find it really frustrating, too. Because the Nielsen stuff is so outdated and has to be inaccurate. And they know how viewing is going elsewhere, so why stick to that system?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Megan-Patterson/513945580 Megan Patterson

    I have been saying this for years! The ratings system is even dumber here in Canada, where you're only counted if you own your house.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Sullivan/88300377 Ryan Sullivan

    I argued with my college professor back in 06 that the Nielsen's were flawed and needed to be updated. I was met with laughter. This just shows that until they come up with another way to fully track who is watching who, great shows will get canceled and more X factors will arise.