Nielsen Gets Rid Of Its Offensively Outdated “Diary” That Logged TV Habits

September 15, 2016

Nielsen is finally phasing out its antiquated paper “TV diary” system that’s somehow still used in 140 of 210 local markets.

The plan is to outfit every market with set-top boxes and other electronic measurement tools (what Nielsen uses to measure national ratings) by 2018.

About damn time

Not sure if you knew about how they collect data for the Nielsen TV ratings but this paper system is the most outdated thing on the planet. Not even exaggerating. It’s actually offensive that it still exists.

Here’s how it works (or worked): Nielsen sends 20-page “diaries” in the mail to random people across the country asking them to log their viewing habits. Cool. Problem is, there’s no room to log any streaming content … which is what, um, people watch.

As Dennis Cheatham, a participant in the survey who has no cable subscription put it, “I just kind of shoved it in there and wrote Netflix wherever I could. Is Nielsen not paying attention to technology? Don’t they notice that something has changed?”

They do, Dennis…

It just took them about a decade longer than it should have — an epic failure that likely cost some fantastic TV shows their livelihood (since networks use that viewership data to decide their fate).


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