Messin' With the Nielsen Ratings

I love the Nielsen ratings.

They're the folks who report how many Americans are watching all those shows every night.

The future of all the TV shows and the careers of their actors live and die by these ratings.

So you would think it would be important to get accurate ratings, right?

Those lovable old folks at Nielsen!  They're so cute.

Wanna know how they compile the ratings?

They mail you a booklet.  You fill it out.  You mail it back.  They read the booklet.  They report the numbers.

We've been a Nielsen ratings home once before.  We got our booklet, complete with the $30 cash 'thank-you gift', during last year's Olympics.  That was an easy week to fill out!

Here's what it looked like:

Day 1:  Olympics
Day 2:  Olympics
Day 3:  Olympics
Day 4:  Olympics
Day 5:  Olympics
Day 6:  Olympics
Day 7:  Olympics

I think that week is when they decided to cancel The Unit.  Sorry about that!  I'm sure Dennis Haysbert will find something to do soon, besides Allstate ads.  At least he's in good hands.

Yesterday, the lovable old folks at Nielsen called me again.  Turns out we did such a good job last time, they'd like to pay us to do it again.  $30 to log what I watch?  I'm in!

I did, however, have a few questions for them.  Last time the instructions were clear on how to mark which shows and DVDs you watched, but didn't say anything about online television, such as Netflix or Hulu.  I asked the nice lady if she would like us to mark these items down as well.

"Oh, no", she replied.  "We only want you to mark down anything you're watching through your television screen."

I replied that while the signal originated on our laptop, we watched it on our television screen.

"Like a Tevo?"

No, not like a Tevo.  Like a laptop.  With a cable connected to our TV.

"Like cable TV?"

Kinda, but completely different.

"I'll have to ask my manager."

I could hear her muffled voice as she explained the situation to her manager in the background:

"Like a Tevo?"

"No, like a laptop."

"Then we don't want it."

"Like a laptop that's on his television."

"Ooh, that's fancy."

Finally, she came back on the line.

"Would you call it a 'Media Center'?

"Honey, for $30, I'd call it Sheila!  Sure, you could say it's a 'Media Center'."

"Oh, then it's OK.  We just didn't want that Internet stuff."

I think they're going to be very confused when they see our results, since nothing we watch is available on regular television.  Our log will probably look like this:

Day 1:  The IT Crowd / The Unit / How to Train Your Dragon
Day 2:  The IT Crowd / The Unit / The Office
Day 3:  The IT Crowd / The Unit / Hot Fuzz
Day 4:  No TV
Day 5:  The IT Crowd / The Unit / Mr. Bean
Day 6:  No TV
Day 7:  The Unit / The Unit / I Really Wish You Hadn't Canceled The Unit

I hope I can make it up to you someday, Mr. Haysbert.

What would your Nielsen ratings log look like?