Monday, October 22, 2007

Beyond Nielsen TV Ratings - TV Viewing Statistics From Non-Nielsen Places

logo tivo_logo Nielsen, TIVO and Snapstream Media.  One of those three names is well known for tracking television viewership, but the other two: TIVO and Snapstream Media (the makers of the Beyond TV DVR software) are not as well known in this realm, but offer a more transparent  and relatively useful snapshot of what Television Viewers like you and I are watching on TV.  Would you agree that Heroes and The Office are hit shows - at least better than Dancing with the Stars or 60 Minutes?  Well you likely agree more with the users of TIVO and Beyond TV.


Since the early 1940's the television and advertising industries have relied on Nielsen Media Research to measure the popularity and success of television programming.  Nielsen continues to be the leading provider of this information and their list of the top TV shows by demographic are consistently highlighted in the media and watched closely by Advertisers and the Television Networks.  While I'm still interested in what Nielsen is reporting as the top shows, I'm left wanting more. 

TIVO collects the statistics of all TIVO users and provides a listing of the Most-Recorded Shows as well as the top TV shows of various famous people including actors and directors. 

Snapstream, the maker of the Beyond TV software DVR collects statistics of the users of Beyond TV on a voluntary basis and then provides the top recorded shows each week as well as the top five upcoming recordings by day.

What value is there in these alternative top TV show ratings?  Well for me, I think the Tivo Top Recorded Episodes tend to be more representative of what I might watch.  I think this reflects the fact that Beyond TV and Tivo users tend to be a more tech-savvy group.  Some of the shows that rate high in Nielsen such as Grey's Anatomy also rate high in the other two, but there are many cases where the opposite is true.  Tivo is pretty representative as well.

Here's a comparison of the Nielsen vs. BeyondTV vs. Tivo Ratings for the week ended October 14th.

Top Recorded (or Watched) TV Shows

10/8/2007 - 10/14/2007

TIVO Nielsen BTV Episode Name
1 3 6 Grey's Anatomy
2 5 3 House
3 4 25 Desperate Housewives
4 1 7 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
5 N/A 1 Heroes
6 N/A 5 The Office
7 10 18 CSI: Miami
8 18 27 Private Practice
9 2 67 Dancing With the Stars 
10 11 30 Survivor: China
11 17 71 Brothers & Sisters
12 N/A 10 Family Guy
13 N/A 32 Boston Legal
14 N/A 39 ER
15 N/A 2 Bionic Woman
16 9 28 Criminal Minds
17 15 40 Two and a Half Men
18 N/A 37 Las Vegas
19 8 19 NCIS
20 19 36 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
21 N/A 23 Prison Break
22 N/A 51 Ugly Betty
23 14 20 CSI: NY
24 N/A N/A The Closer
25 N/A 22 The Unit
N/A 6 N/A 60 Minutes
N/A 7 69 Dancing With the Stars 
N/A 12 75 Cold Case
N/A 13 57 Without a Trace
N/A 16 N/A Deal or No Deal
N/A 20 95 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
N/A N/A 4 Chuck
N/A N/A 8 The Simpsons
N/A N/A 9 Journeyman
N/A N/A 11 My Name Is Earl
N/A N/A 12 Eureka
N/A N/A 13 South Park 
N/A N/A 14 Pushing Daisies
N/A N/A 15 Stargate Atlantis
N/A N/A 17 Smallville

The numbers above where gathered from TVSquad, TIVO and Snapstream's Couchville Site.  I should note that the Nielsen ratings represent the top 20 TV shows watched by the "Nielsen families" and the TIVO stats represent the top 25 TV shows recorded by owners of TIVO's connected to their network.  The Snapstream statistics represent shows recorded by the "thousands of Beyond TV users" who enabled the statistics tracking (Tracking of Beyond TV users viewing habits is voluntary to alleviate any privacy concerns of BTV owners.)   For those times when the TIVO or Nielsen ratings were in the top 20 or 25 I put in the Beyond TV ratings no matter how low.



btv top recordings 10142007

This is a screen-shot of the top upcoming recordings I made from a week ago at the Snapstream's Beyond TV Site.  Notice the top show for Monday, Heroes ended up as the top show overall for that week based on BeyondTV viewers.

What value is there in these alternative top TV show ratings?  Well for me, I think the Tivo Top Recorded Episodes & Beyond TV Top Recorded Shows tend to be more representative of what I might watch.  I think this reflects the fact that Beyond TV and Tivo users tend to be a more tech-savvy and possibly even a more desirable demographic for the advertisers.

Here's a few examples of the more obvious difference between the three sources of TV viewing statistics:

Heroes one of the best shows on television didn't even register in the top 20 of Nielsen's ratings, but registers as number 1 with BTV and number 5 with TIVO users.  Another major omission from Nielsen's top 20 is the hit show The Office.  The Office ranked as number 6 with TIVO and 6 with Beyond TV.  What registers with Nielsen that isn't popular with the TIVO and Beyond TV users?  60 Minutes and Dancing with the Stars both show up in the top 10 of Nielsen and below the 50 top shows for both TIVO and Beyond TV.

It's a fact that Nielsen's sample size is quite a bit larger then TIVO or Beyond TV, but not necessarily more representative of what my family likes and watches. Which of the three ratings best represent what you watch?  Do you match the more "tech-friendly" watchers of Beyond TV and TIVO or the more "mainstream" TV watchers of Nielsen?

Other TV-related posts: TV News: Two Cancellations- Update on New Shows & Writers Strike