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Published: March 21, 2012 at 01:46 AM GMT
Last Updated: March 21, 2012 at 01:46 AM GMT
As my career winds its way from broadcast research analyst to grizzled audience research veteran I am grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way. From my first boss I realized that the three hour lunch break is probably not as productive as she wanted others to believe. I was also taught, the hard way, that although you may be imminently qualified for a promotion you may not be given the opportunity. I also learned from a sales manager that skinny dipping in front of clients was perhaps not the best career move. Another story for another day!
Yet, some of the most valuable lessons I have learned come from that paradoxical institution Nielsen. The first lesson I was taught out of the gate was in regards to diary editing. I was educated on the value of the "two-out-of-three rule." Even as late as 1999, when many households could receive over fifty channels, matching call letter and channel number in the diary justified credit. It did not matter if the title aired on a different network, as long as the call letter and channel number matched credit was given. During my ten years of diary review (I'm a glutton for punishment!) I discovered numerous mis-credited entries because the title matched a different network. I even encountered viewers writing in prime programs that did not air during the diary week, but no matter, call letter and channel number agreed. The two-out-of-three rule doesn't care about no stinkin' program title.
Pie chart in the paragraph below
The next lesson learned is continuously being taught by Nielsen – sample size. I discovered that 1,200 diaries can accurately represent the viewing of almost seven million people in the San Francisco DMA. Nielsen taught me that 500 household meters will equate to the two million plus households for the same DMA. And when people meters arrived, 800 was the magic number to capture both household and demographic viewership. As far as Nielsen's NTI sample goes, 21,000 will be sufficient to represent the 114 million U.S. households thank you very much.
Nielsen's most recent lesson concerns DVR playback within DVR homes. According to the just published Cross-platform Report for third quarter 2011 (where's Q4?), DVR playback accounts for 16.7% of viewing in DVR homes. If you convert that into a weekly figure it equates to less than one hour a day (5 hours and 37 minutes) per week of DVR viewing. Now, think of your own viewing habits. If you have a DVR how much of your television viewing is Time-shifted?
Thanks Nielsen, lessons learned. Here at TiVo our anonymous daily Stop||Watch sample consists of 350,000 set-top boxes. We also recently signed a licensing deal to incorporate the more than 8 million AT&T U-verse set-top boxes into our system which will significantly increase our sample size. In terms of DVR playback, based on TiVo's 4th Quarter Stop||Watch data, 44% of all programs viewed were time-shifted. 54.6% on broadcast television and 37.8% on cable. In prime those figures jump to 63.4% for broadcast and 46.5% for cable equating to 56.1% overall. Based on other information I have seen regarding DVR usage, these figures appear more realistic than Nielsen's 16.7%. But in the end, it is all about sample size, and Nielsen will be the first to tell you they have it covered.
Alex Petrilli serves as senior manager of audience research at TiVo. In this role, Alex is responsible for client management and delivery of research projects, and is integral to the product development for TiVo’s revolutionary Stop||Watch ratings service, Alex can be reached at email@example.com.
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