What's a TV Rating and Who Is It Dating? 2012-13 Edition

Categories: 1-Featured,Help,TV Ratings Reference

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September 2nd, 2012

These are  Nielsen US TV universe estimates for the 2012-13 season which are being used effective August 27, 2012.

Nielsen TV ratings are merely percentages of whatever is being measured.  Sometimes it gets confusing because so many different things are measured.

If you see a 3.4 national adults 18-49 rating, that doesn't mean 3.4 million adults 18-49, it just means 3.4 percent of the 126,540,000 adults 18-49 in the United States (down from 127,860,000 last season) who live in a household with a television were watching based on the Nielsen estimates for the 2012-13 television season.

So a 3.4 adults 18-49 rating works out to be around 4.3 million adults 18-49.

Here are some of the ratings slices we frequently post data for and the total size of the populations being measured.
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Nielsen Estimates 2012-13 Popluation (Millions) A 1.0 Rating Equals
Households 114.20 1.142 Million
People 2+ 289.42 2.894 Million
Adults 18-49 126.54 1.265 Million
Women 18-49 63.98 639,800
Men 18-49 62.56 625,600
Adults 18-34 67.66 676,600
Women 18-34 33.89 338,900
Men 18-34 33.77 337,700
Adults 25-54 118.70 1.187 Million
Teens 12-17 24.02 240,200
Kids 2-11 39.61 396, 100

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The 2012-13 estimates for households, P2+ and adults 18-49 were all down vs. the 2011-12 estimates which were 114.7 million, 289.7 million and 127.86 million respectively.

 
  • Voltron

    Thanks for posting the numbers for the different age groups, is there information for the racial demos like African-American households and spanish speaking, etc.?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Bill: it could be addled memory, but I don’t remember ever posting individual broadcast show 18-34 data in the daily posts, though we for sure used to post the 18-49 and P2+ for Univision. In the way back, we did see more weekly slices than we see now, and we might have posted those.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Voltron, yep Nielsen also estimates Asian, African American and Hispanic households (and a host of other things ranging from household income to pet ownership) but this post was meant to be illustrative rather than a comprehensive.

  • AppleStinx

    @Robert Seidman

    Sorry to butt in, but you guys did post 18-34 for individual shows before.
    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2009/03/23/sunday-ratings-ncaa-tourney-obama-give-cbs-18-49-win-fox-grabs-18-34-demo/15000/

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Apple Stinx: ha! please don’t apologize for having a better memory than I. You’d think that given the number of days I must’ve done the data entry myself that I’d have remembered, and yet…

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    @Applestinx, indeed, you beat me to it.

    @Robert, I figured we could do OK with one old man losing his faculties, but if both our memories are drifting away…

  • JakeSnake

    To be honest the whole share thing still confuses me. Saying 3.4 is 3.4 percent of the total adults in the 18-49 range is easy to understand, but of course it’s always followed by a share number. What exactly does that number represent? You guys have an explanation on here I know, but for some reason I just don’t get what you’re saying. Where does that number come from and why does it always seem to be larger the higher the rating is?

  • Stefan

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to post the exact number in millions, since the numbers for a x.x rating is each season different?

  • Doug

    Is the number of 18-49 y/os declining? A few years back, it was 1.31 to 1.0. Or perhaps just fewer with televisions.

  • Kyle7

    @JakeSnake: Share is the percentage of people who are actively watching TV at that time. If show X was viewed by 2.53 million A18-49, that translates to a 2.0 A18-49 rating. If 25.3 million A18-49 were watching TV at that time across every channel, that 2.53 million would translate to a 10 share, as it was being watched by 10% of the active TV watching populace. The share will almost always be higher than the rating since you never have the entire population of a particular demographic watching TV at one time; I think the only time I’ve seen an identical rating & share were some cable shows that pulled a 0.0 rating/0 share, and even then that was because of rounding.

  • Tyson

    Good to see that Cancellation Bear is waking from his summer hibernation. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him feast on many shows during the next nine months.

  • Ultima

    @Ram
    So now that there’s less people in the A18-49 group does that mean so-so ratings (like a 1.8-2.1) will be looked at as a little bit more than just so-so?

    No. The number of adults 18-49 only decreased by 1.03%, which is insignificant.

    What would cause lower ratings to look better is the continual decline of broadcast viewership, which is typically much greater than a 1% year-to-year drop. Last year, however, the big four were virtually unchanged from the previous year (although the CW dropped significantly).

    As always, what is important is the relative ratings, not necessarily the actual values.

    And when was the last time a show on The CW got at least a 2.0 rating?

    The Vampire Diaries had a 2.0 rating on 29 October 2010 (it’s premiere was a 2.1). I would assume nothing else has reached that level.

  • Question

    @Robert: Is Nielsen Ratings the best that there will ever be when it comes to measuring how many people watch a show? Or is there some kind of measuring tool in the works? Couldn’t they create a way to Opt-in through your cable provider?

    (I, personally, don’t trust their accuracy–with reason. My parents had the Nielsen box a few years back, and when I would stay overnight I would watch TV. Of course, like many people, I didn’t like pushing the buttons and paying attention to when that red blinking light comes on (especially when I fell asleep in front of the TV). Eventually, I told my mother how annoying it is, and she said that the Nielsen rep told her that you can ignore the blinking light, and that it will still work…)

  • Holly

    @Question,

    Is it the best it will ever be? No. Is it the best there is now? Yes.

    An opt-in system would likely be much less accurate. Nielsen attempts as much randomization in their sample as possible while still having their sample represent the overall population. In a opt-in system, there would be no randomization on the sample and the sample makeup would not be representative of the overall population.

    A lot more would be involved in using cable/satellite boxes than most people think. The software used by each company is proprietary and they aren’t all that willing to share so that boxes from different companies can all send information to one centralized system.

    There’s also the question of who would run it. The advertisers aren’t likely to trust ratings that come from the providers (who have a vested interest in high ad prices). That’s part of what makes Nielsen work is that they are a third-party company.

  • Question

    Thanks, Holly!

  • rehabber

    So anyone over 54 is just wasted space???

  • Fafafloehi

    Bababooyie always got at least a 3.0 until it got cancelled for Tradio in 2009

  • Dean_W

    @Nick
    Maybe but Rules of Engagement was Renewed with a 2.7 (maybe because it’s a six-years old show and it deserved to get a final season but i’m not sure CBS has this kind of behaviour).

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “@Robert: Is Nielsen Ratings the best that there will ever be when it comes to measuring how many people watch a show? Or is there some kind of measuring tool in the works? Couldn’t they create a way to Opt-in through your cable provider?

    (I, personally, don’t trust their accuracy–with reason. My parents had the Nielsen box a few years back, and when I would stay overnight I would watch TV. Of course, like many people, I didn’t like pushing the buttons and paying attention to when that red blinking light comes on (especially when I fell asleep in front of the TV). Eventually, I told my mother how annoying it is, and she said that the Nielsen rep told her that you can ignore the blinking light, and that it will still work…)”

    As long as Nielsen ratings are the accepted metric for ad pricing, their accuracy is irrelevant in practice.

    Of course it’s not irrelevant to crazy internet commenters who’s favorite shows are low rated, nor is it irrelevant to network PR and research guys who are looking to scapegoat someone, anyone, but their network, for their poor results.

    But all that is just whining water over the dam.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Bill Gorman

    “So anyone over 54 is just wasted space???”

    There are no national TV ads I know of priced on the basis of viewers > 54.

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