How to Calculate TV Ratings

Written by stephen lilley
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How to Calculate TV Ratings

TV ratings are used to measure the number of people that watched a particular television program at a particular time. They are used to gauge what types of people watch which programs, which can then be used to calculate how much money networks can charge advertisers. TV ratings are calculated very specifically and tend to be incredibly accurate.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • TV meter boxes
  • Sample homes

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  1. 1

    Install TV meter boxes in a sampling of homes. These are boxes that keep track of exactly what a person is watching at any moment, and for how long. The sampling of homes you choose is important; they should be people from a variety of different age groups, nationalities and sexes. Nielsen Media Research, the company in charge of tracking TV ratings for the United States and Canada, keeps meter boxes in about 5,000 U.S. homes at any given time.

  2. 2

    Obtain national statistics on the citizens of the United States. The Census can be extremely helpful in this, as it breaks down people by age, income, etc.

  3. 3

    Take a look at the results you are getting from the meter boxes. Each person that watches a particular show is a representative for the part of the U.S. he most fits into. For example, if a house containing a husband and wife in their forties with no kids watched a particular show at a particular time, it is safe to assume most people that fit that specific description watched the same show as well. You would compare this sampling with all others that met that exact description and see what percentage of your samples watched a show, and then apply that percentage to the general population.

  4. 4

    Multiply the number of people meeting a specific description in your sample group who watched a particular show by the number of people in the U.S. who fit that particular description. The number you get is the estimated number of people who watched that show.

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