Accurate measuring of audience viewing behaviour has always been of crucial importance for a broadcaster’s competitive advantage. Modern technology and software development enable the sophisticated collection of data which very accurately reflect TV audience viewing patterns
One of the main players in the monitoring market is the Nielsen Group, a global technology expert in the field of “People Meters”. Step back a few years, and Nielsen were using the diary method for collecting this data. Lower-rated stations believed that the diary method was inaccurate and biased. They claimed they had lower ratings because those who relied on memory within the diary method usually only remembered to track their favourite programmes. In addition, smaller broadcasters argued that the new and wider variety of channels for viewers to choose from also skewed the ratings. And finally, viewers were obviously not able to record everything they watched and the truth was not accurately reflected. Eventually, in 1986, Nielsen developed the first electronic People Meter, to solve the problem. From that date, the accuracy and reliability of viewers’ watching habits have continued to improve to the point where they now constitute a critical part of strategic planning.
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