Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Media Sales & Ratings

After the craziness of the day, I occasionally sit down and watch an hour of television. I was able to catch an episode of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. In case you don't know what "The Colbert Report" is, it's a late-night news show that parodies pundit news shows such as FOX News. This episode of "The Colbert Report" started off with Stephen Colbert's announcement of the sale of his special "A Colbert Chrismas" CD. However, he brought up something very interesting about the new way we measure sales. On his show, he announced that his sales were only #16 in rank while Kanye West's "808's & Heartbreak" was listed as #1. So, he decided to use the show as a personal advertisement by challenging his guests to make him #1 and beat Kanye West by purchasing his CD at a specific time and date (Colbert declares war on Kanye, 2008).

The little wheels in my head started turning after I watched this episode. Technology has changed rather rapidly since the 80s and with all of the positives there have been a few negatives in terms of ranking. Usually, television shows are ranked based on the Nielsen Media Research ranking system. This is the basic way that Nielsen ratings work (How do television rankings work..., 2008):

"Nielsen uses a technique called statistical sampling to rate the shows -- the same technique that pollsters use to predict the outcome of elections. Nielsen creates a "sample audience" and then counts how many in that audience view each program. Nielsen then extrapolates from the sample and estimates the number of viewers in the entire population watching the show."

So, where are the negatives in terms of the Nielsen rating system? With the popularity of internet video streaming, television ratings were starting to drop. At first, the television networks were hoping this drop was due to the changes made in how the Nielsen ratings were evaluating shows and also due to the DVR, which records telelvision shows for later viewing. However, Nielsen refuted this claim by stating that it was due to actual viewers watching less television (Blodget, 2007). Another reason why television viewership dropped was due to viewers preference in using the internet to watch their television shows and enjoy other forms of entertainment. In fact, 92 percent of internet users claim to use the internet as a form of entertainment on a weekly basis. The largest change in viewership was with audiences under 35 years of age (Emigh, 2008).

With this new medium for watching televisions and movies, how can Nielsen and broadcast corporations keep track of what the audience is watching? Nielsen recently formed the Nielsen Online service in order to keep track of internet activity such as website rantings, advertising, videos, and online consumer behavior in general (Rappa, 2008). Through programs such as the Nielsen//NetRatings, researchers can now compare and contrast the number of users using each medium and the amount of time spend doing which activities. The service goes a step further when in May 2008 the Nielsen//NetRatings group released its first Three Screen Report in May 2008. This report is used to summarize "the amount of activity, including video viewing, which occurs on a monthly basis by the average user over
television, Internet and mobile phones" (Nielsen's three screen report, 2008).

This tool can be vital to marketers since new media marketing is quite new. These statistics can be used to evaluate how a company should spend its marketing dollars in order to reach audiences. With the wide variety of venues to utilize within new media, marketers need to learn which forms of new media are more marketable than others. This is why marketers should consider looking into these statistical reports and why it is vital that Nielsen and other statistical rating systems should attempt to adapt to the ever changing world of technology.

So, how did Stephen Colbert do? It turns out that Kanye West is still beating Stephen Colbert in sales. However, I'm sure Stephen will not let this stop him from promoting his new Christmas CD nor will it deter him from creating new battles and try to show America that this nation really is a Colbert Nation. Goodnight!
Blodget, H. (2007, August 27). Nielsen:"Drop in TV ratings is because people are watching less TV." Silicon Alley Insider. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Colbert declares war on Kanye. Red Eye, Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from,0,2500141.story

Emigh, J. (2008, November 25). Analysts: Consumers drop TV, turn to Internet for entertainment. BetaNews. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

How do television rankings work? How do they figure out how many people are watching a show? HowStuffWorks. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Nielsen's three screen report. Nielsen. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Rappa, M. (2008). Case study: Nielsen Online. Digital Enterprise. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

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