We’re occasionally asked why we don’t have ratings for PBS shows (except for special events like a Presidential addresses). The reason was that PBS shows were not rated by Nielsen (or to put it otherwise, PBS had not paid for them to be rated by Nielsen).
Now, to provide more information to the sponsors of its shows it has signed up with Nielsen for its shows to be rated and appear in the weekly ratings reports. So while we will not see them in our Overnight ratings reports, presumably their ratings will be in the weekly TV ratings reports we receive on Tuesdays.
The public broadcaster will announce on Monday that, for the first time, it has subscribed to full-time television ratings from the Nielsen Company. The subscription provides PBS sponsors with detailed information about the audiences for “Antiques Roadshow,” “Frontline,” “Sesame Street” and dozens of other programs
The deal with Nielsen does not entirely level the playing field between PBS and commercial networks. PBS isn’t signing up for overnight ratings; it won’t be comparing “Masterpiece Theatre” with “The Mentalist” anytime soon. Instead, it is ordering weekly ratings, because some of the programs it provides to member stations are shown at different times.