Dec 20, 2009

PBS to play ratings game

Under pressure from corporate sponsors, PBS has made a deal to have Nielsen Company rate its programs. From the New York Times:
The public broadcaster will announce on Monday that, for the first time, it has subscribed to full-time television ratings from the Nielsen Company. The subscription provides PBS sponsors with detailed information about the audiences for “Antiques Roadshow,” “Frontline,” “Sesame Street” and dozens of other programs.


The deal with Nielsen does not entirely level the playing field between PBS and commercial networks. PBS isn’t signing up for overnight ratings; it won’t be comparing “Masterpiece Theatre” with “The Mentalist” anytime soon. Instead, it is ordering weekly ratings, because some of the programs it provides to member stations are shown at different times.
Although PBS isn't going as far as commercial television, the demand for ratings data does show how important audience numbers have become for all forms of media - whether it be page counts on newspaper websites, Arbitron numbers for public radio, or a Nielsen's weekly count for PBS.

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