As of Friday, January 10, 2014
Last week Joni and I completed a session as a Nielsen household. For one week we were asked to document everything we watched on television. The Nielsen ratings, of course, nationally monitor which shows are the most or least watched. The folks from Nielsen gave us a few dollars for our troubles. It wasn't much, maybe enough for a few lattes or a fast food meal. Getting paid to watch TV, how cool we thought. How neat to actually have a voice in the ratings. That was until we had to follow their instructions in documenting every detail about our viewing habits. It became cumbersome, almost like completing a tax form every day for a week. The novelty soon wore off, and there were times we chose not to watch TV because, well, it'd be one less program to document. From a television network perspective, I'm guessing the Nielsen experience was actually counterproductive in steering us away from the tube. We're not a huge TV watching family to begin with, and sometimes leave it on as background noise while we're doing chores. But Nielsen even wanted those programs documented - despite the fact we weren't watching them. So, at times, it became easier to just have the TV off. Granted, if we were doing this in the fall I'd have a hard time turning off the NFL or some of our favorite primetime shows. But it's summer, a time for barbecuing and lazy walks, not TV journaling and Nielsen. By the time our week was up, we eagerly popped our completed report in the mail, content to be done with Nielsen. If the experience taught us anything, it's that turning off the TV and turning on our imaginations made us the anti-Nielsen household - a home they probably won't want in their future ratings.