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Ratings (Broadcast)

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Ratings (Broadcast)

Audience measurement measures how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership, but also in relation to newspaper and magazine readership and, increasingly, web traffic on websites. Sometimes, the term is used as pertaining to practices which help broadcasters and advertisers determine who is listening rather than just how many people are listening. In some parts of the world, the resulting relative numbers are referred to as audience share, while in other places the broader term market share is used. This broader meaning is also called audience research.

Measurements are broken down by media market, which for the most part corresponds to metropolitan areas, both large and small.



The diary was one of the first methods of recording information. However, this is prone to mistakes and forgetfulness, as well as subjectivity. Data is also collected down to the level of listener opinion of individual songs, cross referenced against their age, race, and economic status in listening sessions sponsored by oldies and mix formatted stations. IBOPE was the first realtime service for audience measurement of the world, it started in São Paulo in 1942.


The audience measurement of U.S. television has relied on sampling to obtain estimated audience sizes in which advertisers determine the value of such acquisitions. According to The Television Will Be Revolutionized, Amanda D. Lotz states that during the 1960s and 1970s, Nielsen introduced the Storage Instantaneous Audimeter, a device that daily sent viewing information to the company's computers using phone lines and made national daily ratings available by 1973. Although the audimeters did not supply sufficient information regarding demographics of the audience, it did however allow Nielsen to establish diary reports that presented some insight on the audience. According to Lotz, the Nielsen sample included approximately 1,700 audimeter homes and a rotating panel of approximately 850 diary respondents. Nielsen was the controlling factor of audience measurement for national network television.[1]

More recently, technology has been used to track listening and viewing habits. In the mid-2000s, networks cried foul, blaming Nielsen for inaccurate rating measurements. This public attention was just the beginning, as Nielsen implemented its automated Local People Meter (LPM) technology. The LPM marked the shift from active, diary based local measurement to more passive, meter-monitored measurement of local markets. Technologically, the LPM is very similar to the original Nielsen People Meter. The key advancement was that the LPM provided accurate measurements of particular local markets. The LPM system has also allowed the industry to measure year-round, rather than the quarterly "sweeps" periods. Researchers believed that the LPM more accurately reported the full range of programming viewers watched, including that while channel-surfing. Arbitron's Portable People Meter uses a microphone to pick up and record subaudible tones embedded in broadcasts by an encoder at each station or network. It has even been used to track in-store radio.

Because of the internet, many businesses are no longer constrained to establishing sales to just their local markets, but alternatively can serve customers across much larger territories. The arising development of markets boosts the likelihood of offering low-occurrence niche items that would go through challenges in order to encounter the ideal customers in a specific area of markets. In his Journal of Advertising Research, author Chris Anderson remarks: "for some internet-based businesses, locality no longer regulates the market." When consumers obtain access to a greater range of choices, they gravitate toward exercising those choices, awarding fewer of their "votes" to the big hits and more of their "votes" to specialized niche choices. Anderson argues that people always wanted more choices, but their desires previously were obscured by distributional bottlenecks imposed by cost or locality.


New digital technologies have complicated in-home measurement systems, such as the DVR and are incompatible with a Nielsen box. Traditionally the Nielsen box was designed to register the frequency of the television signal in order to measure the channel being viewed, furthermore a DVR always produces the same frequency, and therefore an A/P or active/passive meter was developed to read audio tracks of a particular program rather than the frequency of the television. Adapting to these new innovations has brought about concern within the industry, new ways of measurement are becoming readily available as more and more consumers are turning to digital cable, the internet and other devices that can easily be tracked and monitored for content and use, thus making traditional sampling techniques obsolete.

New media

Nielsen//NetRatings measures Internet and digital media audiences through a telephone and Internet survey. Nielsen BuzzMetrics measures consumer-generated media. Other companies collecting information on internet usage include comScore, Wakoopa, and Hitwise, who measure hits on internet pages. Companies like Visible Measures focus on measuring specific types of media; in the case of Visible Measures, they measure online video consumption and distribution across all video advertising and content.

TruMedia, Quividi, stickyPiXEL, and CognoVision provide real-time audience data including size, attention span and Nielsen Media Research (NMR) list.

According to "The Television Will Be Revolutionized" by Amanda D. Lotz, one of the most challenging aspects of audience measurement during the multi-channel transition resulted from the intermediary nature of new technologies and distribution systems. The sampling techniques that most audience research relied upon were based on a fairly uniform nationwide availability of technologies and programming, and thus reflected a network-era experience with television. The arrival of varied programming tiers of cable channels challenged the system as US television homes began having highly descriptive access to technology and programming and consequently began using television in significantly different ways. Although the A/P meter solved the problem of DVR use, programming on video on demand systems did not include the "audio watermark" used by the device. The nation's many cable providers also limited access to the proprietary data recorded by their set top boxes, which reduced the informational gain offered by this technology. Video on demand desperately needed to establish measurement matrices to prove its economic viability, but the lack of shared and consistent information further confounded knowledge about use. Likewise, the erosion of the thirty- second advertisement's dominance and the new advertising strategies that became increasingly common required the creation of new methods and matrices to determine value and pricing.

The goal of these leading providers in automated audience measurement solutions is to deliver results to inquiries such as: The nature of the audience, the number of viewers, the content viewed, the amount of time spent on viewing, the type of display utilized and the audience interest in those displays. In "The Television Will be Revolutionized", Amanda Lotz clearly indicates how technological development in the audience measurement practice provides a multitude of technological advancements such as the DVR, Video-On-Demand portable devices such as the iPod and even a boost in mobile phone proficiencies. These improvements comply with television viewing not to be restrained to be "home-watched". Internet measurement is taken to the next level through its sophistication and high tech distribution. This allows several audiences measurement companies to refer to the Internet as the most measurable media.


The demographic of a particular show's audience is also measured. This is often notated in an abbreviated form,[2] e.g.:

  • P2+ = Persons aged 2 or more
  • P12–34 = Persons aged 12 to 34
  • P18–49 = Persons aged 18 to 49
  • A18–34 = Adults aged 18 to 34
  • Men 18–34
  • Women 18–34

Ratings point

Ratings point is a measure of viewership of a particular television programme.

One single television ratings point (Rtg or TVR) represents 1% of viewers in the surveyed area in a given minute. As of 2004, there are an estimated 109.6 million television households in the United States. Thus, a single national household ratings point represents 1%, or 1,096,000 households for the 2004–05 season. When used for the broadcast of a program, the average rating across the duration of the show is typically given. Ratings points are often used for specific demographics rather than just households. For example a ratings point among the key 18–49 year olds demographic is equivalent to 1% of all 18–49 year olds in the country.

A Rtg/TVR is different from a share point in that it is the percentage of all possible viewers, while a share point is 1% of all viewers watching television at the time. Hence the share of a broadcast is often significantly higher than the rating, especially at times when overall TV viewing is low. A low TRP can have an adverse effect on a TV program eventually leading to its closure.[3]



Gross rating point, a standard measure in advertising, it measures advertising impact. It is a percent of the target market reached multiplied by the exposure frequency. Thus, a program which advertises to 30% of the target market and gives them 4 exposures, will have 120 GRP.

GRPs as a measure has some limitations. People like to think of it as a measure of impact, but that is really overstated. Impact should measure sales; this measures exposures, which is in fact assumed not actual exposures.

  • Basics of TAM (television advertising measurement):

Universe: Universe is the total or actual number of people in a defined target audience.

Reach: Reach is the number of individuals from the universe who are exposed to the medium or vehicle.

Reach is normally expressed in terms of % (percentages)

  • Calculation of reach:

If universe is: 1,000,000 individuals (it's approx. data, it's usually defined through sampling through people-meter):

For a single episode of a program (30 minutes or 1 hour) If out of above 1,000,000 of individuals 600,000 saw at least 1 minute of programme then:

Reach = (600,000/1,000,000) x 100

Reach = 60%

Variations of the reach concept:

Gross reach

Gross reach is the summation of all audiences who have been exposed to the vehicle.

  • Week 1: 1,000
  • Week 2: 2,000
  • Week 3: 1,500
  • Week 4: 1,200
  • Hence, gross reach = week 1 + Week 2 + Week 3 + Week 4
  • Gross reach = 5,700
Cumulative reach

Cumulative reach: The audiences accumulate over the time

  • The number of individuals within the TG who are exposed to the medium or vehicle over a certain period of time
  • Total time = Total average minutes (universe) x Universe
  • Total time/reach = Avg minutes viewers
  • Net reach
  • Net reach: Net reach is the summation of all audiences who have been exposed to the vehicle and excludes the duplication of the viewership.
Weeks Gross reach Total reach Duplication Total duplication Net reach
Week 1 1,000 1,000 -- -- 1,000
Week 2 2,000 3,000 (300) (300) 2,700
Week 3 1,500 4,500 (900) (1,200) 3,300
Week 4 1,200 5,700 (1,000) (2,200) 3,500
  • What is a TVR (television rating point):

TVR = Reach x Time spent

TVR = (minutes viewed/minutes available) + (minutes viewed / minutes available)/N X100

N = Number of individuals

  • Gross rating points (GRPs)

The sum of all ratings achieved in a campaign GRP levels are generally measured and reported on a 4 week basis It is a measure of the media plan's trust

  • CPRP

Measurement used in planning a television media buy based on the cost of a commercial time slot and the rating of the program where the time slot is positioned. If, for example, the cost of a commercial time slot during prime time was $1000 and the program rating for that time was 10 (which means that 10% of the total potential audience was tuned to that program), then the cost per GRP would be $1000 divided by 10%, or $100. The CPGRP measurement is a way of measuring the efficiency of media cost, as compared to measuring the cost per thousand (CPT) and is generally used when making comparisons of the various broadcast vehicles. When the actual buy is made, the advertiser will still want to know the cost of reaching people on a cost-per-thousand basis.

Programme name Time Secondages Effective rate Total amt TVR GRP
A 10:00 am - 11:00 am 150 6,000 90,000 5.4 81
B 21:00 - 22:00 200 30,000 600,000 9.8 196
Total - 350 - 69,0000 - 277

CPRP = 2,491 (i.e., Total amt/Total GRPs)


The ratings industry breaks their statistics down in several ways, to express different measurements:

The Share is the percentage of radio listeners tuned into a given station at a given time. For example - a "1.4 Share" means that that 1.4% of all people listening to the radio at a specified time are tuned into the specified station or program.
Rating is the percentage of potential audience members - whether tuned into any program or not - who are tuned into a particular program or station at a given time.
Cume or Cumulative Audience is the number of unique people tuned into a program or station at a given time. Cume is usually expressed as the estimated number of listeners in any given quarter-hour.
Average Quarter Hour (AQH)
Main article: AQH Share
The AQH figure is the average number of audience members during a typical quarter-hour (measured as quarters of the hour from :00 to :15, :15 to :30, :30 to :45, and :45 after the hour to the top of the hour, respectively.
Time Spent Listening (TSL)
The amount of time an average listener spends listening to the station or program before channel surfing. This measurement drives both the frequency of radio commercial breaks, as well as the station's programming strategy. Stations whose radio formats tend to have short TSLs (music stations) as well as dayparts (see below) with short TSLs (morning drive time, for example) will have more frequent commercial breaks; formats and times with longer TSLs will schedule breaks less frequently.


All of the other ratings are broken down by demographics. Stations that might have weak overall ("12+") demographics may have strong enough ratings within a given, desired "demographic" to be attactive to advertisers, and thus profitable.

For example, talk radio stations frequently have lower-than-average "12+" ratings, but much higher numbers among males age 35-54. Since the 35-54 male demographic is highly coveted by advertisers, such a station can be quite profitable.


In addition to demographics, a key breakdown in ratings is the "Daypart", or segment of the broadcast day.

In radio (and to a lesser extent television), the key dayparts are:

  • Morning Drive: characterized by short TSLs (the time a person spends in their car) and, for the well-programmed station, high cumes, Morning Drive (usually from 5AM to around 9AM) is a key revenue generator.
  • Mid-Mornings, Mid-Days: With lower listenership (measured by lower average quarter hours) but generally longer TSLs, the middle of the day is a place where stations frequently experiment with longer music, television programming, and longer television commercial sets.
  • Afternoon Drive: Again, high listenership but short TSL, combined with a more-tired listenership that is driving home from work, combines to make afternoon drive time (usually from 3PM to 7PM) a time of short sweeps and, in talk radio, brief conversational snips.
  • Evenings and Overnights: Lower listenership means lower revenues - but a standout program frequently can draw a niche audience that, if it shows up in the ratings book, can mean solid revenue.


Diary-based radio ratings in the US may inflate listenership, because they are only measured in 15-minute increments. Listening at any time during a quarter-hour counts as listening for the entire duration, even if the actual time was just for a song or two.

The process of surveying listeners for their preferences has also been criticised for its lack of flexibility. Listeners complain that modern radio lacks variety and depth but the measurement methods only facilitate further refinement of already minutely programmed formats rather than the overhaul that many listeners are asking for. Radio in the USA, is where listeners hear their old favorites rather than are exposed to new music. Data obtained by some audience measurement methods is detailed to individual songs and how they are reacted to by each age, racial, and economic group the station is seeking to attract. This statistical approach leads to highly recognizable songs (such as those from the Beatles) which score well with a cross-section of listeners.[4][5]

Measurement conferences

The world's largest audience measurement conference, AM X.0, is presented annually by the Advertising Research Foundation. Each year, hundreds of attendees from around the world gather to hear a collection of experts speak on Social Media, Mobile and Cross-Platform issues.

Measurement companies

  • The Kantar Media network (including TNS) currently measures TV, radio, and internet audiences in over 40 countries.
  • AGB Nielsen Media Research currently measures TV audiences in 27 countries globally using people meter technology in more than 58,000 homes.
  • In Australia, television ratings are collected by three main organizations. OzTAM serves metropolitan areas, Regional TAM serves regional areas serviced by three commercial networks, and Nielsen Media Research Australia handles for regional areas serviced by two commercial networks. Ratings are collected over 40 weeks of the year, with a two-week break over Easter and 10 weeks over summer.
  • In Argentina, radio and television measurement is done by Ibope and Infortecnica.
  • In Belgium the measurement is done by GfK Audimetrie and MediaXim at the request of Centrum voor Informatie over de Media (CIM).
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mareco Index Bosnia is the provider of TAM ratings (TV Meters). This company also provides Radio & Print Measurement data (Diary).
  • In Brazil, IBOPE provides measurement services for TV.
  • The provider of Bulgarian TAM ratings is Taylor Nelson Sofres TV PLAN; this company uses TV meters.
  • In Canada, BBM Canada measures both TV and radio while its subsidiary BBM Analytics is one of several companies that provide software for analyzing the data.
  • In Colombia, television measurement is done by IBOPE and Nielsen. In Radio, measurements are handled by ECAR
  • Finnpanel measures both radio and TV in Finland.
  • In Czech Republic, television ratings are collected by Mediaresearch.
  • In Denmark, radio measurement is handled by TNS Gallup.
  • In France, radio and television measurement is handled by Médiamétrie.
  • In Germany TV audience measurement is done by Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (known as GfK).
  • In India, television ratings are collected by two main organizations - TAM Media Research and Audience Measurement Analytics Limited (aMap). Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd. (aMap) entered the market in 2005, with more coverage and latest technology from Telecontrol-Switzerland. Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd. (aMap) polls the meters (6000 households) using GSM network and provides ratings overnight. TAM India collects data manually (physical visits) and releases data weekly. Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd. (aMap) also has a stand-alone digital panel (aMapDigital) to measure TV viewing and Interactive engagement in direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) homes.
  • In Japan Video Research Ltd. handles radio and television measurement.
  • In Kazakhstan, TV measurement is handled by TNS.
  • In Lithuania, TV and radio measurements are handled by TNS Gallup.
  • In the Netherlands the measurement is done by Intomart GfK and MediaXim at the request of Stichting KijkOnderzoek (SKO).
  • In the Philippines, TV measurement is handled by Kantar Media Philippines and AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines. Kantar Media uses a nationwide panel size of 2,609 urban and rural homes that represent 100% of the total Philippine TV viewing population, while AGB Nielsen reportedly has only 1,980 homes based solely in urban areas that represent only 57% of the Philippine TV viewing population. Kantar Media covers 15.135 million households or 75 million individuals while AGB only covers 7.260 million households or 34.4 million individuals. Radio measurement is handled also by AGB Nielsen, while its competitors are the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas - Radio Research Council (KBP-RRC) and the Philippine Survey and Research Center (PSRC).
  • In Pakistan TV audience measurement is done by Gallup BRB & Medialogic Pakistan.
  • In Portugal TV, Radio, Press and Internet audience measurement are done by Marktest.
  • In Poland TV audience measurement is done by Nielsen Audience Measurement.
  • In Russia TV, Radio, Press and Internet measurements are handled by TNS Gallup, OOH is measured by ESPAR Analytics in cooperation with TNS Gallup.
  • In Slovakia TV audience measurement is done by TNS.
  • In Spain, digital signage audience measurement is done by aiTech. radio and television measurement is done by Infortecnica.
  • In Sweden TV audience measurement is done by MMS — Mediamätning i Skandinavien.
  • In Turkey, TV measurement is done by AGB Nielsen, radio by IPSOS-KMG.
  • In the UK, television measurement is handled by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board via a metered panel and radio by RAJAR, using a diary system. The NRS (National Readership Survey) measures newspaper and magazine readership.
  • In the United States, TV measurement is done by Nielsen Media Research, radio by Arbitron, and digital signage by TruMedia and CognoVision.
  • In the US, Stratacache uses audience measurement technology to build reports for digital signage.
  • In Vietnam, TV measurement is done by Kantar Media in 6 main cities.

See also

Notes and references

Lotz, Amanda D. (2007) "The Television Will Be Revolutionized". New York. NY: New York University Press. p. 196-197 Lotz, Amanda D. (2007) "The Television Will Be Revolutionized". New York. NY: New York University Press. p. 199

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