By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — Please take a moment to click through to this website:
You see TV Nielsen ratings. Nielsen as you know is the TV and radio (in Australia) ratings company that is merging with Arbitron and has cool offices in lower Manhattan. TV BY THE NUMBERS breaks out the TV ratings any way you could imagine: By demo, show, cable, syndication, network. If you want a number you don’t see, simply email the site’s founders and they’ll get it for you.
What is the source of their information? “Various data sources” it says in their ABOUT section.
Readers participate like a sport
Cancelled or NOT is a popular section of “TV by the Numbers” which predicts which TV shows will be renewed. Viewers get information months ahead about the viability of shows.
In the comment section of “TV by the Numbers” you’ll see public comments about which shows should be cancelled and which shouldn’t; which shows are worthy of a petition drive to be kept on the air despite the ratings and which blow.
Readers debate how shows could be improved and how to grow ratings. The public participates in the ratings conversation of television through this site and it brings them closer to television and their choice of shows.
Who put this site together? The TVB? Nielsen? Nope. Here’s what the site says,
“TV by the Numbers launched in September 2007. The site was founded and is run by Bill Gorman and Robert Seidman, who have been friends since the early 1990s.”
Two friends. Not officials, not authorized. Two TV Fans fascinated by ratings. In six years they have not been shut down for revealing granular Nielsen data. The TV industry knows that the discourse about SUBSCRIBER ratings on this site is… good for television.
Wouldn’t that be great? Listeners seeing radio ratings and watching the ebb and flow of their favorite hosts and formats on a website that freely shows Arbitron ratings.
The results of an open publication of all radio ratings would be new engagement from listeners and advertisers. Right now there is so much industry whining about listener apathy toward radio, positive actions would be appropriate.
Here are a few, you’ll think of more:
• Listeners would become aware of stations and formats they didn’t previously know about.
• Advertisers and listeners would be surprised that in many cities, an AM station(s) is number 1.
• Listeners would become acquainted with the business of radio on an easy to understand level. They would discuss it with their friends in retail and advertising and push for radio support would come from a broader base.
• Open radio ratings would put radio on the same playing field with TV and TV is having a BANNER REVENUE YEAR. (No, that’s not because of re-trans fees from cable, only losers raise that flag.)
To make sure I wouldn’t be embarrassed, I searched RADIOBYTHENUMBERS.COM. Nothing. Then I went to GODADDY.
Amazingly, I just bought RADIOBYTHENUMBERS.COM. It’s shocking that it’s available. No, I didn’t write this to promote a site I own—calm down. I wrote this because it is hard to understand why Nielsen is so open about their results and Arbitron is like Verizon. There was a period when Arbitron was becoming open and user friendly. The company is populated with FANTASTIC execs like Ron Rodrigues, Bill Rose and many others. It’s all the same industry. Snitching is for the weakest.
Walter Sabo is chairman of New York City-based consulting firm Sabo Media. On a regular basis you will find trend reports and illuminating ideas from Sabo Media in TALKERS (www.talkers.com) and RadioInfo (www.radioinfo.com). Walter Sabo can be reached at Walter@sabomedia.com.