understanding zero ratings

Pete Doe

Smaller or invisible audiences to individual events are an inevitable byproduct of media fragmentation throughout the world. This creates a challenge for the systems designed to measure audiences; in some cases audiences may fail to register at all on the measurement system. TV, with minutebyminute measurement and reporting, is most prone to this, but no medium can claim to be immune from the possibility of a detailed measurement yielding a zero. This article examines some of the issues surrounding zero audiences, and provides an indicator of the likely true audience level when a measurement system delivers a zero audience.

Types of zero audience

Assuming there is no error in the data collection and reporting, there are three types of zero audience that a measurement system will deliver. It is not always possible to distinguish between the three.

  1. Genuine zero