Audience Ratings: Radio, Television, and Cable

By Hugh Malcolm Beville Jr. | Go to book overview
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research was expensive (by the cost structure standards of the day) and that clients should be prepared to pay the full price (and yield the supplier a reasonable profit). Nielsen's prices were always higher than those of any competitor, and long-term, ironclad contracts were required. Therefore, subscriber top management was invariably involved in Nielsen negotiations. By this approach Nielsen assured that his company would prosper and that funds for experimentation, and new service developments were available to cope with improved technology.

A second (and somewhat corollary) Nielsen principle was that his research results should reach top management. He recognized that relatively low-level research directors were seldom able to get the attention of presidents and operating vice presidents. Therefore, at least once annually, Nielsen would ask clients for an audience with all involved top executives, at which he would present a lengthy presentation on NRI results, including many special Nielsen analyses.

These presentations were his way of ensuring that top management was cognizant of the depth of the valuable data in NRI reports, which justified the high expense for the service. Nielsen's detailed presentations became a hallmark of the Nielsen services throughout the industry.

The broadcasting industry owes much to Crossley, Hooper, and Nielsen: Just how much would take volumes to record. The foregoing brief look into their personalities and methods provides readers some understanding of their immensely important personal roles in pioneering the broadcast ratings field.

Eric Barnouw, The Sponsor ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 12.
Ibid, p. 26.
Daniel Starch, A Study of Radio Broadcasting Based Exclusively on Personal Interviews with Families in the United States East of the Rocky Mountains, New York: National Broadcasting Company, April 1928.
S. H. Giellerup, "It's Time we Took the 'Blue Sky' Out of the Air," Advertising and Selling, Vol. XIII, No. 13, October 16, 1929, p. 19. Giellerup's proposal was for an all-county mail survey to determine station listening rather than program audiences.
The primary source for changes in CAB service details between 1930 and 1946 was "The Public Wants," an unpublished manuscript by Archibald M. Crossley dated March 1979.
The base (100 percent) for these ratings was the total number of telephone households contacted for interviews. Nonrespondents were eliminated.
Frank W. Nye, "Hoop" of Hooperatings ( Norwalk, Conn.: privately printed, 1957).
George Gallup, letter to the author dated December 28, 1977.


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