Audience Ratings: Radio, Television, and Cable

By Hugh Malcolm Beville Jr. | Go to book overview

support from major cable interests. Now that TAA is attempting to go commercial and inaugurate a continuing syndicated service in 1985, the true value of such qualitative data remains to be seen. On the basis of the pilot study, which failed to show any qualitative edge for cable, cable support will be minimal.

For such syndicated surveys to be useful, two major hurdles must be overcome. The first is the availability of population figures for newly dimensioned categories because program nonviewers as well as viewers must be accounted for. The strength of demographics is the availability of an enormous U.S. Census base of data by geography. Services such as PRIZM and Cluster Plus, which build on census figures, can be readily linked to other market and media data. A second and more important requirement is that the media planners at agencies and advertisers use the qualitative service data as an input requirement for buying. Negotiating spot and network buys is a complex and costly operation at the agency level. 19 To simplify the process, the buyers have specific guides for each account. If the qualitative service's ratings are slated to be used in buying, the stations and networks will rush to supply them. Otherwise the service's effectiveness in the advertising marketplace is marginal at best, and significant industry support is highly questionable.

Gale Metzger, president of Statistical Research, Inc. and chairman of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), closed an ARF Workshop held on December 15, 1983, with this outlook:

There is merit in what we have. It has withstood the test of time, the critical examination between buyer and seller, and the challenges of new competitors. My expectation is that the current measures will withstand the current challengers-- that ten years from now we will be using the same basic measures we are today.


NOTES
1.
Proceedings of the 1980 Technical Conference on Qualitative Television Ratings--Final Report. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, D.C. 1980, p. 6.
2.
Dr. Paul F. Lazarsfeld, eminent sociologist, was perhaps first to recognize that detailed rating analysis could produce valuable qualitative insights. When Lazarsfeld headed the Princeton Radio Project in 1938, he encouraged the author to pursue such an inquiry, the results of which the Office of Radio Research, Princeton University, published in 1939 as "Social Stratification of the Radio Audience." The conclusions appeared in the Public Opinion Quarterly, June 1940, under the title "The ABCD's of Radio Audiences," Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 195. Another distinguished sociologist, Dr. Samuel Stauffer, likewise expressed interest in the potential of ratings data for scholarly analysis.

-157-

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Audience Ratings: Radio, Television, and Cable
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Radio Services-- Pre-Tv (1930-1946) 1
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Radio Services--Post-Tv (1946-1984) 28
  • Notes 59
  • 3 - Television Services (1946-1984) 62
  • Notes 81
  • 4 - Rating Methodologies: A Comparative Examination 83
  • Notes 129
  • 5 - Quantitative Versus Qualitative Ratings 131
  • Notes 157
  • 6 - Cable Ratings (1979-1984) 160
  • Notes 183
  • 7 - Using Ratings Data 185
  • Notes 217
  • 8 - Ratings: Servant or Master? 219
  • Notes 240
  • 9 - Government Intervention 242
  • Notes 256
  • 10 - What We Have Learned: 1930-1984 258
  • Notes 270
  • 11 - A Look to the Future 271
  • Notes 292
  • Appendix A Ratings Basics: Terms, Calculations, and Relationships 294
  • Sources 299
  • Appendix B Offices and Services of Principal Syndicated Ratings Companies Operating on A National Basis 300
  • Appendix C Audience Measurement Highlights U.S. Total Population 304
  • Appendix D Methodological Studies and Assessments 315
  • Introduction 315
  • Bibliography 345
  • Index 351
  • About the Author 363
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