About us

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.

LEARN MORE ABOUT NIELSEN   |   VIEW OUR HISTORY

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.

NIELSEN RATINGS

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.

VIEW OUR WEEKLY TOP 10   |   LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR TV RATINGS

LEARN MORE ABOUT MEDIA MEASUREMENT WITH RATINGS ACADEMY

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:

When you participate as a Nielsen Family, you’re part of a Nielsen panel.

How do Nielsen panels work? Think of a scientist studying a lake. To learn more about it, they take a small water sample because it shares the same traits as the rest of the water. There’s no need to drain the whole lake to understand what’s going on.

Similarly, a panel is a smaller group that shares the same traits—like gender, race and age—as a larger population. We develop these panels to help us understand what’s happening in the larger population without having to interact with each and every person in the larger population individually.

CAN I TALK ABOUT BEING PART OF A NIELSEN FAMILY?

No. Once you begin participating, you can’t share that you’re part of a Nielsen Family. This helps keep our ratings as independent as possible.

CAN I VOLUNTEER TO BE A NIELSEN FAMILY?

No. Homes for TV and audio ratings are scientifically selected, so you can’t volunteer. However, you can sign up for our consumer panels or our digital panels.

DOES BEING PART OF NIELSEN FAMILY AFFECT MY PRIVACY?

Read more about Nielsen’s Privacy Principles. Prospective Nielsen Families will also be given detailed information about how we collect and use their data before they decide to participate.

WHO DO YOU SELECT?

Our panels need to include many different populations and communities. It doesn’t matter if there’s one person in your household or 10, if you live in a city or a rural location—anyone could be selected.  People who work for Nielsen, their immediate family members, domestic partners, or members of their household, as well as people who work in the media (or anything related to it), cannot be members of the panels.

WHAT DOES A NIELSEN FAMILY GET FOR PARTICIPATING? DO I HAVE TO PAY?

Being a Nielsen Family costs you nothing. In fact, as a thank you, you’ll receive gifts for your continued participation.

CAN I HELP RECRUIT NIELSEN FAMILIES?

Yes—by joining our dedicated team of Nielsen Representatives.

WHAT ARE FORMER NIELSEN FAMILIES SAYING ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCE?

”Being a Nielsen Family felt like it brought our own family closer together. We already loved watching TV, but this made it a lot more exciting.” -Jackie

 “I enjoyed participating because the [Nielsen] employees became like family.” -Matthew

IF NIELSEN DOES BUSINESS IN OVER 100 COUNTRIES, THEN WHAT IMPACT DO YOU HAVE ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES?

We’re committed to giving back in all the communities and markets where we live and operate our business. We were named one of “America’s Most JUST Companies” by JUST Capital and Forbes, and more than 20,000 team members participated in Earth Week and Nielsen Global Impact Day in 2018. Learn more about our commitment to global responsibility and sustainability.

ALREADY BEEN CONTACTED BY NIELSEN? LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR TV HOMES.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BEING A NIELSEN FAMILY

 Listen to what our representatives are saying.

PANEL REPRESENTATION

At Nielsen, diversity and inclusion are a part of our DNA. This is reflected in everything we do—from creating an inclusive workplace to selecting panels that truly embrace the most backgrounds and experiences.

PRIVACY PRINCIPLES

Your contribution is important to us, and we protect your privacy. Nielsen will never use your personally identifiable information (such as your name, address, or email address) to advertise, promote or market third-party goods or services directly to you, and we use various methods to make sure that an individual panelist cannot be identified in the reports that we create for our clients.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR PRIVACY PRINCIPLES

LEARN MORE ABOUT PANELIST PRIVACY