Jacksonville `Growing Up' Nielsen Boxes Put Local TV Market on National Map

By Patton, Charlie | The Florida Times Union, May 31, 1998 | Go to article overview

Jacksonville `Growing Up' Nielsen Boxes Put Local TV Market on National Map


Patton, Charlie, The Florida Times Union


It's expected to change the way Jacksonville TV stations do

business and to subtly enhance the city's image. And it starts

tomorrow, when Jacksonville officially becomes Nielsen Media

Research's 40th metered television market.

Electronic meters already installed in 300 randomly selected

Jacksonville homes will record whether TVs are being used and to

which local stations the sets in use are tuned.

National overnight ratings, the numbers that are made available

daily from Nielsen and typically in the news after major

television events, are currently compiled from 39 television

markets. As of tomorrow, add Jacksonville.

"We're growing up," said Lorraine Ferraro Kenny, vice

president/director of media services for St. John and Partners,

a Jacksonville advertising and public relations firm.

The local benefit will be immediate, too. The information on

each day's viewing will be available to the local TV stations

early the next morning, providing what Mike Stutz, news director

for Jacksonville's CBS affiliate WJXT TV-4, called "a daily

report card" for the first time to Jacksonville stations.

Overnight ratings will also provide more current information to

the stations as they make decisions.

"The potential is to make smarter programming decisions and

smarter marketing decisions," said Mike Liff, general manager of

WJWB TV-17, the Jacksonville WB affiliate.

Overnight ratings should subtly affect how Jacksonville is

viewed nationally, at least among people in the television and

advertising industries. Although it is only the 54th-largest

media market, and the smallest among the 40 metered markets, it

should have some more clout.

"We became a major league media market when we got the meters,"

said Liff, who was managing an independent station in San

Antonio when that market was first metered in 1990.

"When they quote the ratings in USA Today from the overnight

markets, we're one of them now. Clients see that, and we are

considered major league."

Until now, the only ratings numbers available in Jacksonville

have been those compiled using Nielsen's diary system, which is

used four times a year to measure viewing in all TV markets.

Randomly selected viewers have been asked to fill out reports,

by hand, about their household TV viewing during the four

four-week periods known as ratings "sweeps months." (The sweeps

periods are in November, February, May and July.)

But the diary system has many critics. One problem is that the

reports are not timely: Stations don't get their ratings books

until several weeks after each sweeps period ends. And while the

diary system will continue to be used in Jacksonville during

ratings sweeps periods because it provides more detailed

demographic information than meters do, the diary data is

considered less than completely reliable.

"Diaries are filled out by the head of household," Liff said.

"Whoever that is, they are speaking on behalf of all the people

in the home. That's an awful lot of responsibility to lay off on

one person.

"The system suffers memory bias and diary fatigue. People get

tired of filling out their diary, and they guess at the end of

the week. They vote for their favorites . . .

"The meter is a passive electronic tool that will report what

is being watched."

MORE TVS TURNED ON

According to figures provided by Nielsen, one result of

metering a market is that much higher levels of TV viewing get

reported. …

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