Nielsen Bows to Pressure, Ups Ethnic Samples

29 August 2005

US TV audience measurement monopoly Nielsen Media Research has ceded to the realpolitik of pressure from all five points of the compass - north, south, east, west and News Corporation - and expanded its count for certain ethnic minority groups.

The move takes place as part of an overall 5% increase in Nielsen's estimate of all US TV households - it now fixes that figure at 110.2 million during the 2004-2005 season.

The company reports the greatest upward surge is in the number of Asian TV homes, up 3.2% to 4.22m. There are 11.23m Hispanic TV homes (up 2.9%), while African American homes increased by 0.8% to 13.2m.

The recount of ethnic minority households is a resounding victory for the Don't Count Us Out coalition, a movement supported by all shades of political opinion, and bankrolled by NewsCorp - which deemed its own broadcast interests to have been adversely affected by Nielsen's methodology.

And then there's the bad news!

The measurement mammoth's latest estimates show a big boost in the number of so-called 'baby boomers' - those born in the postwar euphoria of the 1950s. Compared with 2003, the 2005/2006 season registers a leap in women aged 55-plus, up from 35m to 36.2m; men in the same age group rose from 28.3m to 29.7m.

This is not good news either for advertisers or networks, who quest obsessively like medieval alchemists seeking the elixir of youth: the 18 to 49-year demographic.

Perhaps they should seek consolation where the real spending power now lies - among the boomers themselves.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff