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Nielsen Ratings Academy: Educating Audiences on the Power of Media Measurement

“Hey! Why was my favorite show cancelled?”

We get this question a lot. Truth be told, there’s no one simple answer; content creators can decide to pull the plug on a program for any number of reasons. Still, many cancellations reflect a lack of audience interest—or not enough interest to support the expense of producing the show.

This is common knowledge to most media insiders, but it’s not always understood by viewers. In fact, many believe Nielsen is actually responsible for deciding which shows get cancelled. These types of assumptions highlight a very clear need: increased understanding around ratings.

Today, we’re looking to clear things up by launching Nielsen Ratings Academy. This new online, interactive portal breaks it all down: the types of media consumers access, how we measure viewership and how we derive ratings.

While the media landscape has evolved significantly over the past 75 years or so, understanding audience viewership across platforms has never been more important. With the proliferation of new devices available to audiences, the main goal of marketers hasn’t changed since we first started measuring consumer behavior in the 1930s: create strong messages and make sure those messages reach the right consumers. Nielsen measures audiences across TV, digital and audio and provides insight into these audiences through Nielsen ratings. Simply put, a rating represents the percentage of people that were exposed to a particular piece of content or advertising. These ratings play a pivotal role in providing both content creators and advertisers with a single data set, often referred to as the industry’s “currency” to confidently operate and evaluate opportunities to reach the right consumer.

“Measuring media consumption is a very complex process today,” said Eric Solomon, SVP Product Leadership at Nielsen. “Accurate, comprehensive measurement requires extensive, scientific and constantly evolving technologies and methodologies in order to deliver the level of quality the market expects. Given these complexities, we felt it was useful to give a peek ‘under the hood’ to provide insight into how ratings are derived. Ratings Academy does just that.”

Ratings Academy was borne out of the need to provide new entrants in the media industry with a one-stop shop for insight into Nielsen’s media measurement and its output: ratings. Over time, this website will include a series of modules, each of which will cover a different element of the media landscape. The first module explores the overall media realm, laying the foundation for additional modules diving into TV, Audio and Digital.