Bitching about Nielsens is useless. Unless there is another system put in place, with similar scope, that can be used as a comparison, there is no way to know if the Nielsens are wrong. And even then, if there was a discrepency, a third system would have to be created as a tie-breaker. There's no way anyone's going to fund these two shadow-Nielsens systems so we'll never know the truth.
What's far more interesting is the impact of DVD sales and TiVO (and paid downloads). But the story, like all these kinds of stories, is frustratingly short on specifics. How
exactly do new revenue streams factor into business decisions about renewal of shows?
If the Nielsens drop 10%, how many DVD sets need to be sold to make up the difference? How many paid downloads make up the difference? Since only a minority (though reportedly a sizable one) of TiVO viewers watch ads, how much are TiVO ratings discounted versus Nielsens? How much does it matter that TiVO viewers are watching ads "at the wrong time" (many ads are time-sensitive)? TiVO households are unrepresentative of the general public (better educated, higher income, more white) - some advertisers want that demographic, but many don't - how is that factored in?
's second season, the show was routinely #1 on iTunes' download list each week after it aired. It was cancelled anyway. How many more downloads would it have taken to avoid the axe?
What are the trends in alternative revenue streams? Are DVDs more important than paid downloads or vice versa? Is one overtaking the other? What is the relative importance of the various revenue streams now, and what will the balance be ten years from now?
Anyone who runs across a story like this that tells us something useful
for a change, please post it.
I'm really curious to know but nobody's talking (probably because this competitive info that businesses are loathe to reveal).