What Is a TV Rating and Who Is It Dating? 2013-14 Edition

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These are  Nielsen US TV universe estimates for the 2013-14 season which are being used effective August 26, 2013.

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 126,960,000 adults 18-49 in the United States (up from 126,540,000 last season) who live in a household with a television were watching based on the Nielsen estimates for the 2013-14 television season.

So a 3.4 adults 18-49 rating works out to be around 4.32 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.

Nielsen Estimates 2013-14 Popluation (Millions) A 1.0 Rating Equals
Households 115.80 1.158 Million
People 2+ 294.56 2.9456 Million
Adults 18-49 126.96 1.2696 Million
Women 18-49 64.02 640,020
Men 18-49 62.94 629,400
Adults 18-34 67.63 676,300
Women 18-34 33.78 337,800
Men 18-34 33.85 338,500
Adults 25-54 119.75 1.1975 Million
Teens 12-17 24.63 246,300
Kids 2-11 39.34 393,400

I am including the estimates for the 2012-13 season below since the estimates for 2013-14 are up a bit in the aggregate. That’s mostly because effective with the 2013-14 estimates Nielsen is counting some households (about 1.5 million of them) that don’t have any “traditional TV” and only get programming via non-traditional means (mostly “streaming only”).

This change, though pretty small (only a third of 1% with adults 18-49) will drive 18-49 ratings down a tiny bit in the coming season. That’s because those non-traditional TV households add to the base of potential 18-49 viewers in the Nielsen calculation — but NONE of those households (or the people in them) actually get  CBS, NBC, ESPN, USA, AMC, FX, etc.

To say that again, those non-traditional homes count as potential viewers even though none of them actually get CBS, NBC, ESPN, USA, AMC, FX in their households because they don’t have a cable, satellite, telco service and don’t receive channels over the air via antenna either. “Antenna-only” homes are perhaps old school, but they are still “traditional.”

It’s kind of wacky, but that’s the kind of wackiness that occurs when people demand that Nielsen be progressive and get with the times.  A new square for the fan excuse bingo cards is born!

 ***2012-13*** Nielsen Estimates 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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