Measuring TV Viewers
March, 2005, LOS ANGELES - For the last nine months, I have been engaged in a challenging, and, to my surprise, immensely informative charge. Last summer, I was asked to serve on a task force suggested by New York Congressman Charles Rangel and chaired by former Illinois Representative, Cardis Collins, to evaluate a new technology for measuring television viewing - a system called the Local People Meter.
Like all of you, I had known of the Nielsen ratings. For people working in television, the ratings mean life or death. If your rating is good, your show is renewed and you survive for another season. If it's low, your show is cancelled and you find yourself among the unemployed. This recently happened to the latest Star Trek spin-off, "Enterprise." Its low rating killed it.
Yet, I knew very little about how the ratings were arrived at. It was a mystery to me. The Nielsen rating was life or death to us and I didn't know how this murderous and, at other times, life sustaining system worked.
I'd never met anyone in the Nielsen rating pool. So serving on the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement was an eye-opening education. Beyond learning about the Nielsen rating process as it had been practiced, I learned about the new technology being introduced as well as something about technologies yet to come. I learned of the scores of interests, other than those of us involved in television production, that are vitally concerned with the Nielsen rating - advertisers, ad agencies, broadcasters, language groups, statisticians, demographers, researchers, and many other sectors. I was staggered by the huge advertising dollars, in the tens of billions that are determined by the ratings numbers. I learned a lot.
I vaguely knew that the Nielsen ratings had something to do with measuring the television viewing of representative people selected, based on the last census. These individuals would be requested to keep a diary of the shows they watched. Indeed this proved to be the system as it had been. This rating system was based on the assumption that the people selected would be diligent and honest. Most people were but others were not. Even if a person had not watched their favorite show for whatever reason, that person might have written it down in their Nielsen diary just to keep their favorite show's ratings up. There was virtually no way of verifying the accuracy of the diaries.
The technology being introduced - the People Meter - eliminated that unreliability. A device was to be attached to every set in the household; each member of the selected household had a button that he or she was to press when viewing and everything that particular individual watched would be recorded. The device would capture even the channel surfing of that viewer. This was certainly an improvement over the old diary system.
Because today we have so many channels and so many choices, inevitably the ratings of the big networks were affected. In the days when we had a limited number of options, the big networks had massive numbers. Now, with so much competition, some of the big networks numbers, inevitably, were adversely impacted. Some of those affected networks challenged the precision of the People Meter count. There also was the allegation that minority audiences were not accurately counted. Thus, the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement was formed to make an objective assessment of the accuracy of the People Meter system.
The Task Force met and received testimonies from many individuals representing myriads of interests. We met with them throughout the country. We formed committees to address specific areas of concern. Because the members were located throughout the country, there were countless telephonic meetings. The members of the Task Force worked tirelessly and collegially. We listened to the many testimonies; made findings and crafted recommendations for improvements to the accuracy of the measurement. After nine months of dedicated work, the report of the Task Force on Television Measurement was completed in March. Those interested in looking over the full report can download it here and get more information on the Nielsen ratings by clicking www.everyonecounts.tv. Our Report has been well received. Nielsen has accepted the Report and our recommendations. Nielsen has already implemented many of the recommendations and others soon will be.
My time with the Task Force has been personally enriching. I now have a deeper appreciation of the complexity of our dynamically transforming society both technologically and demographically.
Demographically, the ethnic population of this nation is growing not only explosively but also in multifaceted combinations. Caribbean Africans may be Black but culturally Spanish speaking Latino Blacks. Asians from South American countries like Peru or Argentina are likewise Spanish speaking. The population from the Middle East is growing rapidly in certain parts of the country. Blacks from Africa are now adding to the mix of languages spoken in the United States. Intermarriages are creating a myriad ethnic and language combinations. Children of these intermarriages are forging new self-identities. The buying power of these groups is rising faster than that of the non-ethnic population. The measurement of television viewing by such complex and diverse audiences is becoming increasingly challenging and Nielsen has been developing technologies to meet that challenge. The Local People Meter is a step in that direction.
However, technology is adding to the complexity. Advances in technologies like digital video recorders, Tivo, and others allow the audience not only to determine when they view a show, but also to fast-forward right through the commercials that pay for the shows. This is of critical concern to advertisers who pay enormous sums for their ads. I learned that we will soon be seeing people selected to wear cell-phone-like devices called the Portable People Meter that will not only capture the shows and their accompanying ads that they see at home, but wherever they happen to see television, whether at a bar, a friend's home or on the street. Yet to come are devices that not only will capture the shows seen but the purchases that individual makes by registering the bar-code information of the product bought. Further, these devices will also record the time it took for an individual to make a purchase after they first saw the ad. I don't think Star Trek ever explored this frontier or the boundaries of privacy that technology approaches. What a fascinating Star Trek script that would make!
One would think we're in a place in time where all conversations should be easy.
But that is not the case.
So much is still too "taboo" to be truthful about.
It is so frustrating.
There is so much to discuss.
Being shy is understandable, but it's something that we can all get over.
Redditor No_One_Special34 wanted to breakdown some barriers with a few simple conversations, so they asked:
"What is a taboo subject that should be talked about more?"
"Child/infant death. When my daughter died a bunch of people just... stopped talking to me altogether."
"I'm sorry to hear about your child."
"A 7-year-old was hit by a truck last week near my son's kg. I've never met the boy but I have had nightmares about it. I can't imagine what the parents are going thru right now. I can't imagine what you are going through."
"This happened to my mom when my brother died. Nobody knew what to say so few people said anything, and then it was treated like it didn’t happen."
The Aging Process
"We are a disgustingly ageist society. No wonder people pay BILLIONS for plastic surgery, hair color, and fitness, etc to stay relevant and not be thought of as useless or 'other.' It’s so very hateful. I think our society fears old age and death. It’s a f**king pathos."
"THANK YOU! I'm a 20-year paramedic. One of the things that I really hoped COVID would shed a light on is the absolutely abhorrent treatment of our elderly and infirmed. The 'treatment' in far too many nursing homes is negligent to a criminal level."
"Household budgets and finance - how much your parents make, how much is the mortgage, car insurance, car payment, and so on."
"That's easy. House, two cars, three kids, stay-at-home wife, pets, college tuition for everyone in the bank, a summer cottage home by the lake, and a hobby like golf should all do if you're a hardworking drug dealer nowadays."
"Agreed! We have gone into detail about our finances with our kids. We have them pick jobs on LinkedIn and a home on Zillow and budget so expenses and have them watch as they realize they can't afford expensive stuff on a crap salary. It's been really great."
Look for the Signs...
"Many people tend to assume that abusive people look creepy/scary and behave badly in general, but they don't seem to get that anyone can be abusive, regardless of appearance or demeanor. An abusive person can easily be charming, attractive, funny, witty, etc."
"Just because you think someone has a few positive qualities does not mean they're incapable of abuse."
"If someone's child 'seems' happy and well behaved, it does not mean that they are automatically OK or safe. There are many signs of abuse, and I wish that more people educated themselves on this issue. We can literally save lives by doing so."
The Girl Truth
"Girls need to know everything there is to know about menstruation before they experience it. At my school we were only given a quick 'every month you will bleed out your vagina, you can use pads or tampons to absorb it.' Nothing about any of the other mental or physical effects, nothing about how to deal with them, and nothing else reassuring."
Why are girls not taught more sooner?
Like what year are we living in?
"Number one for me, especially out-of-order deaths (young deaths). My husband died when I was 33 and he was 38. It's been almost 3 years and people still struggle with how to talk to me. We need to talk about death more as a society."
Only Legal One
"Alcoholism, especially in older generations."
"The biggest drug in the world, the most dangerous, only legal one. Alcohol has been disguised to make society believe it isn't even a drug. Now we're all hooked and can't go a week without a drink, funny because the cravings come back within a week."
"I quit drinking 18 months ago and it kinda sucks because if you want to go meet new ppl or go on a date it usually involves alcohol."
"Comprehensive sex ed. My mother never had sex ed and was convinced that vaginal discharge wasn't normal and that your crotch didn't sweat."
"My mother had a condition that requires her to use a catheter. She was shocked to learn that she doesn't urinate from her vagina, and that the opening to her urethra is actually slightly above it. She's 75. I'm a dude, and I've known that since I was 14."
"She was raised Catholic, and her mother taught her nothing. Not even what her period was. She was convinced she was dying."
Follow the Money
"Financial debt. In my line of work, I see people's bank accounts and credit reports every day and it is very rare that someone has zero debt. Excluding mortgages (which is a given) the vast majority have car finance, personal loans, and credit card balances. Mostly it's manageable, credit is mostly a convenience for which a person pays interest."
"But debt can also destroy a person. It can keep you up at night feeling like you're literally suffocating. It can lead to suicide. I know because I was close at one point. I don't know if I would have actually gone through with it but I had planned it to the point of measuring rope from the timbers in my attic to my neck and to ensure my feet wouldn't touch the ground."
"If you are in debt you are not alone, you're in the majority. If it's a struggle, notify the lenders/creditors; they're legally obligated to offer options to help you. It might reduce your credit score a bit but please don't ever reduce your life instead."
"Life is precious and money isn't. If you're struggling financially please speak to someone. There is no shame in it, pretty much everyone is struggling financially so someone will understand but please don't let a credit card balance be the reason your life ends."
"Pooping and poop problems. Colon cancer is so common and relatively treatable, but like all cancers, it's so much better to catch it early - yet so many people are too embarrassed to talk about poop problems, and they don't bring it up with their doctor until it's too late."
"I have ulcerative colitis and make sure all my friends know I'm totally comfortable talking about poop if they ever have any questions about whether something happening to them is normal or concerning."
Speak more. Speak louder. We've all been quiet too long.
The Thing People Would Look For First If Given A Box Of Everything They Ever Lost
As much as we might try to take care of our things, there are going to be instances where we lose things that we love.
Ironically, those lost things might be some of the most meaningful things we have in our lives.
Redditor baba_yaga_777 asked:
"If someone offered you a box of everything you ever lost, what would you look for first?"
A Mother's Brooch
"The brooch I bought for my mom's birthday when I was five years old (60 years ago)."
"I took all my money out of my bank and walked to the local Hallmark store. The nice lady took my money (probably less than $2) and wrapped up the gift."
"When my mom opened her gift, we walked back to the store 'to thank the lady for wrapping it so nicely.' It was actually so my mom could offer to pay the rest of the cost of that beautiful brooch. The lady wouldn't accept any more money, though."
"And here we are, 60 years later, and I still remember the incredible kindness of that lady."
"I don't have the brooch or my mom, but I do have this memory."
"When we left Yemen during the civil war in 1994, it was rushed and we lost a handbag that had all family photos from 15 to 20 years prior. It sucks not to have pictures of me when I was younger."
The Perfect Fit
"My swim trunks for this summer. I just got them last year and they fit me perfectly, and now I can't find them for the life of me. It p**ses me off thinking about it."
All Progress Saved
"The 'Pokémon Crystal' game that I had leveled all of my favorite characters up to Level 80. The housecleaner swiped it and my parents wouldn’t believe me. F**k you, Julie."
Lost Loved Ones
"My daughter. She was gone way too quick."
A Beloved Baby Blanket
"My childhood blankie. I have no idea what happened to it!"
"I somehow managed not to lose or destroy mine and gave it to my firstborn child. He still keeps it in his bed and turns seven soon. I think I’d ask for that too if it was lost."
Former Best Friends
"My best friend from my formative years."
"Oof, same. She was like a sister to me. She lives on the other side of the country now and, even though we grew apart, I miss how I felt when I spent time with her."
"The stuffed platypus I had when I was in elementary. Every time my mom mentions finding stuff in my grandpa's house, I ask about it."
In Exchange for Toxic Relationships
"The self-esteem that I allowed others to destroy during a phase of illness."
"High school sketchbook full of emo edgy drawings."
The Family Ring
"My mum's ring she'd been given by her Grandma that I pawned (my mum agreed at the time but always regretted it afterwards)."
"I got way, way less than its worth, since the guy took advantage of my age and desperation. The worst thing is, I can't even remember the design so can't ever have it replicated and can't ask my mum because she passed away earlier this year."
"Sure, I still love holidays but… as a kid, it was like, 'Holy mother of everliving f**k, Halloween is in THREE WEEKS? That is entirely too long. I will never be able to wait. Holy d**n.' And when it finally arrived, I'd have the night of my life."
"Now it’s like, 'Oh no. Halloween is in two days. Uh... Oh well...'"
The Sea of Lost Picks
"As a guitarist, all of my f**king picks."
Junk Drawers and Boxes
"The box I lost that had everything in it."
Quite the Conundrum
"The issue is that I can't recall what I've lost."
We've all lost things in our lives, some more important than others.
It's especially telling that at least most of us know exactly what we would seek first, before anything else that might possibly be in that box.
People Share What Their Reaction Would Be To Meeting A Naked Hiker On The Trail
There are several things that are appealing to hikers.
Being out in nature and taking in some fresh air is a huge motivation for people to get out of the house.
Getting exercise is also a factor to maintain a healthy heart.
But there could be one unexpected element to a hike that can happen hypothetically, and it's sure to raise your heartbeat.
Specifically, seeing something shocking along the hiking trail, like, say, a naked person could make for an exciting–or disturbing–hiking outing. It certainly doesn't get any more au natural than that.
Curious to hear from strangers, Redditor spenf asked:
"What would be your reaction if you encountered a nude hiker?"
These Redditors assessed the situation and saw no harm.
"I have passed two nude hikers in my 35 years of hiking. One male, one female, years and thousands of miles apart. Both said 'hello'. I said 'hello.' One mentioned the trail was washed out ahead but a second trail has been cut. I thanked them for the heads-up. Some people like the wind and sun on their skin. Both had on hiking boots. To each their own."
Sign Of Good Character
"I have. Three times! I'm an avid backpacker and you can usually find me in Yosemite, SeKi, Emigrant or Carson-Iceberg in California on any random summer weekend."
"My standard line: 'Afternoon, I didn't realize it was so cold out today!'"
"One of them didn't get the joke. The other two laughed their nude a**es off."
"Here's my reasoning. If you're naked and can laugh at a joke, you're probably not a threat."
"Depends. A hiker with hiking boots/shoes and a backpack, but otherwise nude, or a completely nude person on a hiking trail?"
"Scenario 1: I give a friendly wave and hike on."
"Scenario 2: I give a more tentative wave and hike on, maintaining a heightened awareness of my surroundings."
"I met one once. A middle aged man in ok shape. Had nice hiking boots, thick wool socks, fancy framed backpack, two walking poles, hat, sunglasses, and nothing else on."
"I said hi in a neutral voice, he replied hi in an equally neutral voice. We passed, I did not look back."
Some hikers are suspect.
"While backpacking out of Rocky Mountain National Park we encountered a dude wearing nothing but shoes and some very small shorts. He was off trail about 100' at the edge of a meadow, walking and swinging a machete. I...did not approach. He was probably a mile in from the trail head. I'm guessing drugs."
Beware Of Black Magic
"Ha! There are a lot of superstitious rumors/stories circulating around scenario 2 in India. Apparently, people who practice black magic with the sole intent of harming someone are often seen walking naked in places you don't expect people, carrying weird items."
"Either you interrupt them by disturbing them (no clue what happens next) or you run in the opposite direction."
You may want to take note.
"I live in the Bay Area and naked hikers are not uncommon."
"Good naked hiker: has appropriate shoes, a backpack or fanny pack, is hiking with intention and looks tanned and fit and like he does this regularly. Good naked hikers will give you room so you don't have to interact unless you really want to."
"Bad naked hiker: shoeless, visible sores, scrapes, or burns, moving erratically (i.e. really slow or in a zig-zag). Might be a drugged out person. Out-of-shape or pale are indications this is not normal for them and they may not have intended for this to happen."
"Exhibitionist: makes a point to make eye contact, smile at you, wave, try to involve you. Good naked hikers are usually on long, deep trails where they're less likely to encounter others, and they tend to give clothed hikers a wide breath out of a sense of respect and consent. Exhibitionists get chummy; it excites them to be seen naked."
"Also depends on the area. A deep woods area with long trails is ideal for naked hiking. Shorter and more accessible trails are less okay because there's a higher likelihood of encountering families with children."
"Also depends on if they're with friends or not. A group of naked hikers is less concerning than an individual."
"All this boils down to:"
"If you see a naked hiker, mind your own business. A good naked hiker isn't trying to bother you. A bad naked hiker is potentially dangerous. An exhibitionist wants attention so any attention paid to them will fuel them. Best thing to do is nod as you pass and carry on like you haven't even noticed."
"Edit: There are actually areas in the Bay Area where it's permitted to hike naked. Regionally, some places allow nudity. Also some places allow women to be topless so a topless female hiker might just be evening out her tan. It's best not to assume and to know the local laws before passing judgement on a person getting their nature on."
Guilty as charged.
The Name Is A Dead Giveaway
"No reaction at all, since I would be nude myself."
"Stare in disbelief. That's just very strange and coincidental for two nude hikers to run into each other."
"I guess make sure they have sunscreen also."
To each their own, but if hiking in the nude is your thing, you do you.
And just a heads up: If you're walking around in the buff and happen to be wielding a machete, you're going to make people very jittery. So maybe drop the prop.
Also, wear plenty of sunscreen.
The Absolute Hardest Parts Of Dating After Age 30
30 is the new 20.
At least, that's what a lot of people tell themselves after they pass that milestone birthday.
Even so, while age is merely a number, people still find certain things grow increasingly more challenging with each passing year.
Including, or even particularly, dating.
Those still on the hunt for love after turning 30 might grow increasingly insecure, worry that their moment has passed, or be unable to ignore the ticking of their biological clock reminding them that time might be running out to start a family.
Not to mention, playing a losing game over and over can become completely and utterly exhausting after a while.
"What is the hardest part of dating after 30?"
Not Everyone Wants A Package Deal
"Realizing that the number of single parents is larger than you’d expect."- dhabo1030
"Some people have kids or want them soon."
"And emotional baggage."- Psyblade0_0
"Kids, whether you have them or not, is something to talk and consider immediately before starting anything."- Crisb89
"For me, it was finding someone who didn't have kids, and didn't want them."
"At that point in my life, I was (and still am) 100% sure I don't want kids."
"Finding a long-term partner who wants the same was pretty tough."- Toiletpaperplane
"Everyone has kids."- TopScruffyPlaying Happy Children GIF by MOODMANGiphy
Everyone's In A Hurry
"'Dating after 30 is like catching a city bus after midnight'."
"'There aren't as many, but they're faster'."- civex
How Long Have You Got?
"Online dating sucks and all my friends are married or dead or single fathers."
"So I am on my own for the most part."- somedude-83
"It's not all fun and games anymore."
"People feel late or behind."
"First dates often: are we compatible, do you want kids, are you OK with my kids, are you ready for a serious relationship, do you make enough money, do you own a home, politics?"
"I don't have time to mess with you if we aren't a match because I'm in my 30s and supposed to be married and having kids."
"The days of just light fun dating are less common."- ZLVe96Kill Me Now Season 1 GIF by FriendsGiphy
Emotional And/Or Excess Baggage
"You sometimes pay for what their ex did to them."- JJJAAABBB123
Rising Standards And Expectations
"You have your preferences narrowed down a LOT more than you did in your 20s, thus finding a compatible partner is more difficult."
"Especially if you dislike kids."- Clintman
"Many people want 'high value' partners while having no value."- Zetterburger40Sassy Red Wine GIF by Married At First SightGiphy
Solo routines Can Be Hard To Shake...
"I've learned I prefer my own company."- PrinceEnternalStench
"The summoning rituals you have to go through."- AdCareful5654
Wait Till Your 40s...
"Wait until they’re over 45."
"Most are divorced and have been alone for a while."
"It‘s a reset of dating and they’re open to try something new."
"That person who was out of your league is now squarely in your court."
"Go for it!"- macgivSee Ya Goodbye GIF by MaxGiphy
Good Luck Getting A Good Night's Sleep...
"CPAP Machines."- Reddit
As long as you are single, finding love is one of the many things you think you might never achieve with each passing year.
However, when you do finally find that one true love, no matter when or how old you are, you will realize in no time at all it was definitely worth the wait.