Measuring Television Viewership through a Multi-Method Approach

George Terhanian
Harris Interactive Inc., United States

John Bremer
Harris Interactive Inc., United States

Thomas F. Delaney
CBS Television Network, United States

Randall K. Thomas
Harris Interactive Inc., United States


In the United States, Nielsen Media Research (NMR) and the methodologies they employ, notably, the National People Meter (NPM), dominate the field of television program audience measurement. Since NMR first began measuring program viewership decades ago, however, there has been no shortage of debate over the accuracy of its ratings. Even in the past several months, industry experts have questioned whether a reported decline in television viewing by 18-34 year old males is real or spurious. Some who believe the decline is real maintain that these males may have turned toward competing forms of entertainment such as DVDs, video games, and the Internet. Those in the spurious camp assert that the decline may be the result of NMR's decision to modify its sampling methodology. At this point, it is not clear where these males have gone, if they have indeed gone anywhere. What is clear to us, however, is that the behavior of 18-34 year old males is becoming increasingly more difficult to measure through traditional research methodologies.