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Game of Ratings – Alex Petrilli
By: Alex Petrilli  

As we all know, words are wind, but sometimes that wind can be very biting. “…We're still doing TV ratings on something more analogous to political polling," says Time Magazine columnist James Poniewozik in a recent Public Radio International interview. Hard truths cut both ways though as the media industry continues to support and rely upon a seemingly flawed system. Nielsen might possibly retort “you know nothing” to such a comment , but as the media and market research industries begin to embrace big data as never before, the entire television ecosystem hinges on approximately twenty-five thousand Nielsen People Meter households whose data generate the incumbent TV currency. The U.S. Census currently places the U.S. household population at over 115 million, which equates to one people meter for every 4,600 U.S. households. A set-top box (STB) sample of 1.5 million households equals a 1:77 STB to U.S. household ratio.

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National Geographic Channel, a network that in recent years has become known for its uncommonly creative publicity and promotion practices, faces just such challenges in the month ahead when it will debut “Eat: The Story of Food,” a three-night, six-hour documentary miniseries beginning Friday, November 21 that should leave sated anyone hungry for fresh information and fascinating historical footnotes about the title subject, and two new ongoing half-hour series, “Eric Greenspan is Hungry,” in which the celebrity chef travels around the country in search of the best meat, poultry and shellfish recipes, and “Chug,” a series in which comedian and TV host Zane Lamprey travels the world sampling the finest cocktails (and some interesting cuisine). “Greenspan” and “Chug” debut on Monday, November 24.

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Has there ever been a drama on advertiser-supported television as unrelentingly violent as FX’s “Sons of Anarchy?” The brutality on this show can be breathtaking. Not that I have a problem with that. What would be the point? The war against television violence was lost long ago. The television industry, like the movie business before it, has finally loosened up and given the public what it wants. Who am I to stand in the way of such progress? I think “Sons” surpasses even AMC’s ultra-violent “The Walking Dead” in terms of perpetual brutality with its frequent slayings of primary and recurring characters and its messy mass-murders. (On “TWD,” most of the victims of the harshest killings are already dead.) Especially in this, its final season, “Sons” has presented the brutal, bloody butchering of several gangs or groups of people unwise and/or unfortunate enough to engage with criminals in and around the fictional town of Charming. Even a brothel filled with sweet sex-workers and their customers was the scene of one such slaughter.

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Women make up approximately 50% of today’s workforce and approximately 80% of women have a child before the onset of menopause. Employers are putting their own existence at peril if they ignore 40% of the workforce. That is why over 80% of employers offer some form of flexible schedule and flexible place work although less than half of those employers have standardized the benefit or included it in an employee handbook. This seems counter-intuitive but actually it makes sense. The flexibility that works for one employee will not address the issues of all other employees.

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