- The proliferation of HD television sets has led to a renewed interest in sports, and especially the NFL, which has had a good ratings year. Makes sense. I'll accept that.
- The economy. Good, cheap entertainment. OK. I guess that makes sense. Guacamole is still relatively cheap.
- The weather, and especially the big snowstorm in the northeast. Huh? Well, Nielsen says more people stayed home to watch the game instead of going out into the elements to gather at parties, bars. and sports restaurants, thus allowing them to capture that viewing on their set-top boxes. That is a big admission of a major flaw in how TV audiences are measured. It is the equivalent of Sean Payton admitting his team had no hope of blocking Dwight Freeney.
See, if you watch TV in a sports bar, at a friend's house, in a hotel room, or in the backseat of your mini-van, that viewing is not necessarily captured by the ratings company. If you are a Nielsen family and have a set-top box on all your TVs, but you watched Drew Brees throw those pinpoint passes over at a buddy's house, you did not get counted in those 106 million households. Oh, if you are in one of those many markets where Nielsen uses the diary method, you may have been honest enough to make the proper entry in your diary while gnoshing on nachos, but that did not get counted in the overnight numbers that are being bandied about. In fact, that data won't be available for a while yet.
There are better ways. Arbitron has one. If you were a PPM panel member and watched the game at Smokey Joe's while scarfing up wings and beers, your viewing could have been recorded so long as the sound on the TV was up. But Arbitron lacks the wherewithal to go after the TV ratings business.
Truth is, it's no big deal to CBS, who carried the Super Bowl. 100 million? 106 million? No big deal. But why should it matter to you? When you consider the same antiquated technology makes the difference between a good show surviving to grow or being tossed on the trash heap, the measurement makes a big difference. Or if you are an advertiser deciding how to place your media dollars to grow your business and hire more folks, it is crucial that you get accurate and timely data, or you make mistakes that could be fatal.
Bottom line is billions are being spent--including $5 million per minute on Super Bowl ads--on TV advertising using numbers generated by 1950s technology. Heck, the Super Bowl has been around since 1966! That's XLIV years.
Not so super when we don't know how to keep score, huh?
Don Keith N4KC