Why Nielsen Ratings Are Inaccurate, and Why They’ll Stay That Way

I’ve never been a fan of the Nielsen ratings, and this article really supports my position. But nonetheless it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, although it’s good to see they are at least considering changing up a bit.

Nielsen’s ratings, in the most basic sense, are like a poll: a sample of people, which the company claims fully represents the TV-watching public, is asked to report their viewing habits back to Nielsen. These people, of which there are about 50,000 (in 20,000 households), are approached by Nielsen to participate, and paid a token amount for their time and effort. (This broad sample differentiates Nielsen from smaller competitors like TiVo, whose subscribers tend to be wealthier than average.)