Nielsen TV and Radio Ratings + Nielsen Families
At Nielsen, we measure what people watch, listen to and buy. We have done this for over 90 years. Most of our knowledge and data comes directly from people like you. We rely on real people to understand how audiences watch TV and listen to music and podcasts, and how consumers shop for the products they need.
To measure all of this, we ask people to be part of our panels. A panel is a small group that has the same traits (like race, gender, etc.) as a larger group of people. Some of our panels are made up of Nielsen Families. Nielsen Families are people who allow us to measure what they watch on TV and listen to on the radio. We take what we learn from them and get the ratings.
How Nielsen Families Are Selected
First, a county within a state is selected.
Next, within that selected county, a group of block areas are chosen.
Specially selected homes within that block area are then contacted to participate as Nielsen Families.
Information about who watches and listens to content like music and TV shows is used to get the Nielsen ratings. Ratings help people who work in TV, radio, and advertising understand how their content is performing—this can be anything from a network comedy to a podcast to a news segment during a given time. A rating is the percentage of a specific population that watched or listened to a piece of content or ad.
WHAT ARE YOU MEASURING TO GET NIELSEN RATINGS?
Basically, anything that comes through your TV or radio. So depending on where you live, we measure live content, as well as on-demand, DVR and streaming services.
HOW DO RATINGS WORK?
Our measurement devices pick up audio codes to know what content is being viewed and listened to. We collect the data securely, then use a combination of science and statistics to get the ratings.
Are ratings the same as reviews?
No, they aren’t—ratings and reviews are very different. Our ratings only show viewing and listening behaviors that we measure, but reviews are opinions and can come from anyone. Our ratings are also not the same as parental movie “ratings,” which review a film’s content to understand if it’s appropriate for viewers of different ages.
Nielsen Families and Panels
Becoming a Nielsen Family is a chance to have your voice heard and represent your community. By contributing to ratings, you’re letting the media and advertising industries know what you, and people like you, prefer to watch and listen to. And you belong to an important group—there are tens of thousands of Nielsen Families across the U.S.
Listen to what a former Nielsen Family has to say about participating: