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The cause of your favourite show's impending cancellation
February 2, 2011 11:56 PM   Subscribe


 
I watch TV all the time and nobody never gave me no pie.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:08 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


TLDR: Your show's success or failure is based on its commercial ratings, which indicate how many people watch the commercials for a given show.

Rambling out loud, just a bit, I find it interesting that while Nielsen has tried to evolve their tracking of people's watching habits with the advent of the People Meter, TiVo has had sophisticated tracking technology embedded in it from the get-go. (Though TiVo doesn't ask individual household members to key in like the Nielsen box does, where each user has their own remote control.)

The bigger issue with using TiVo for anything other than supplemental data is that TiVo is still closer to the side of a upper-middle-class service. Poor families can't afford TiVo, so the results can't be a fair sample. Nielsen apparently enlists what they've determined to be a proper statistical sample, though the math always boggles my non-statistician mind: only 50,000 people in 20,000 households set the entire course of television.

I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system. Clearly, they're strongly asked not to, but turning on your TV, hitting the "I'm Watching!" button on the remote, and walking away, isn't exactly detectable.

TiVo is nicer in the regard that it's able to monitor anything you do, including fast forwards (though the People Meter box can ostensibly do that as well, to some degree), but TiVo even picks up on commands sent to the TV itself, including volume or power. (People Meters turn on when the TV is turned on, but I don't think they monitor additional user interaction with things like volume, which help determine if someone is still present.)

I'm more surprised that the cable companies haven't begun to collect better analytics with their own set-top boxes. Since most cable today requires those boxes, they tend to be in even the poorest households with cable, though I suppose a large number can still tune with a digital-tuner-equipped television. Cable boxes are already two-way devices, in that they can trigger requests for PPV or OnDemand, or manage Switched Digital Video to "activate" a channel for a given chunk of bandwidth for your neighborhood's node. This data, plus a quick questionnaire when you create your cable account, would likely be pretty invaluable for at least working to corroborate Nielsen ratings.

The bigger issue is essentially glossed over in the article: it isn't just that commercial ratings drive a show's success or failure. It's that the ratings themselves appear to be inaccurate. Or at least feel inaccurate. They cite the Obama inauguration, but I ask you: ARE THERE REALLY THAT MANY FANS OF TWO AND A HALF FUCKING MEN?

Still more impressive, and perhaps harder to believe, is that Nielsen reports that Americans are watching more TV than ever before, ON THE TV. With the whole "the internet is huge and everyone is on it now" thing, I would think they'd see some sort of drop, but I suppose we need to watch TV to have those discussions in those "is this something I'd need to own a TV to understand" threads...
posted by disillusioned at 12:21 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system.

That reminds me of the episode of Roseanne where the Conners became a Nielsen Family and Roseanne declared that they all had to start watching educational shows. I'll bet that happens in real life too, people trying to balance out their trashy "guilty pleasure" shows with highbrow stuff.
posted by amyms at 12:37 AM on February 3, 2011


Why don't advertisers just make better ads? Half the time, I stop fast forwarding (seriously) and watch mayhem, the most interesting man in the world, and the sexy, sexy, old spice guy. And sometimes new Geico ads.
posted by lesli212 at 12:40 AM on February 3, 2011


The most staggering part of the article for me, was the statistic that Americans spend, on average, 34 hours a week watching television. This to me seems almost impossible. I'd love to see a comparison with other countries.
posted by salmacis at 12:56 AM on February 3, 2011


Why don't advertisers just make better ads?

"Better ads" are, on balance, absurdly expensive. A talented creative firm is expensive. The storyboarding, writing, and conceptual process is expensive. Merging those visions with your internal marketing team? Expensive. Production, actors, computer effects, editing, and other post? Expensive.

And they're expensive in ways that don't come back to them in the additional returns they hope for. They can even be expensive and NOT as wildly successful as, say, Old Spice guy. Even cranking out a "cheap" professional commercial is going to cost serious coin. To do something clever or outside the box just raises the rates, requires executives willing to sign off on the lending of their entire brand to a couple of crazy kids, and no real guarantee of return, and frankly, a lot of the time, the cheaper, more straightforward commercials get the job done. The article mentions that nowhere near as many people fast forward as you might think. Hell, I've had TiVo for 10 years and I forget to fast forward sometimes. And not just because the commercials are amazing.

And in the end, you can spend tons of money on Crispin Porter + Bogusky and end up with something so freakishly terrifying as the Burger King: a campaign designed to target the "cynical" 18-35 male demo, with the perhaps unintended side effect of freaking out what's likely your next most important demo: soccer moms.
posted by disillusioned at 1:12 AM on February 3, 2011


Does this mean a + is Nielsen envy?
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 2:02 AM on February 3, 2011


Nielsen... Nielsen... that has something to do with the way the internet worked back in the nineteen hundreds, right?
posted by XMLicious at 3:06 AM on February 3, 2011


disillusioned: I'm more surprised that the cable companies haven't begun to collect better analytics with their own set-top boxes. Since most cable today requires those boxes, they tend to be in even the poorest households with cable, though I suppose a large number can still tune with a digital-tuner-equipped television. Cable boxes are already two-way devices, in that they can trigger requests for PPV or OnDemand, or manage Switched Digital Video to "activate" a channel for a given chunk of bandwidth for your neighborhood's node. This data, plus a quick questionnaire when you create your cable account, would likely be pretty invaluable for at least working to corroborate Nielsen ratings.

Yeah, I've been wondering for years why they don't do that. It seems like such an obvious place to collect market data.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:25 AM on February 3, 2011


That reminds me of the episode of Roseanne where the Conners became a Nielsen...

That reminds me of a Night Court episode where a family is in court, clearly frantic about being forced to leave the house. I think they say something like "last time we left, we lost Punky, and we have to get back before Misfits of Science is on." then Harry responds "your too late already" (cause it was recently cancelled before the episode aired in real life.)
posted by about_time at 4:29 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm more surprised that the cable companies haven't begun to collect better analytics with their own set-top boxes.

I recall reading about this someplace (Google brought me nothing, must've been a magazine) that there's two reasons:

1. People get weirded out when being forced to have something that monitors them; you can turn down Nielsen, but you can't turn down the cable box, regardless of how innocuous or anonymous the monitoring is.

2. Collecting the data from 100,000, 400,000, a million cable boxes 24 hours a day and collating that with income, age, gender, etc., is a lot of work, if even just to collect and store it. To pick who to monitor and get it down to a reasonable sample involves analyzing data to avoid adverse selection and get a representative grouping. Selling that data involves marketing and packaging it in a useable way. Cable TV providers are cable TV providers, and not data miners - the extra income from selling the data, versus the cost of collecting and maintaining it, when other people are already doing it in a passable way, isn't worth it to them.

That said, I think cable TV channels could benefit from better advertising sales models. I am sooooo tired of seeing ads for medicare supplements, structured settlement buyouts, medications, dating websites, and x-hour energy drinks. Seriously, I must watch the wrong channels at the wrong times, because aside from prime-time network TV those are the only commercials I see. Get cable companies on that stuff right now, I tell you.
posted by AzraelBrown at 4:38 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm more surprised that the cable companies haven't begun to collect better analytics with their own set-top boxes.

They've tried, and there are several enterprises out there that are trying to re-package the data and sell it to agencies and advertisers. They have faced several barriers:

-Penetration. Digital boxes may not yet be quite prevalent enough to provide a truly balanced sample (although this does not preclude creating a mixed panel)

-Nielsen's lack of interest in innovation. VNU (Nielsen's parent company) has an effective monopoly in a large number of countries, and feels very little need improve their methods. At times when they have (such as the introduction of PPMs), they have been dragged kicking and screaming by advertisers. They have also been known to buy up competitors, and then sit on any new measurement technology.

-Structural barriers at agencies. While most large media agencies have very capable analytics groups who are very interested in new measurement techniques, getting the word out to other parts of the agency and finding champions in investment groups can be difficult. Investment directors tend to be unwilling to introduce radical changes to the way in which they buy and report TV. Their interests are based in consistency and continuity, and they don't want to have to explain to a client why their numbers have suddenly changed. Agencies are still arguing over which currency (live + 3, live +7, average commercial minute, etc.) to employ in order to accurately capture DVR viewing.

-Conservatism of advertisers. We have difficulty helping many clients get their heads around online measurement, let alone digital TV. Older clients tend to still want to buy TV like it's the '80s (100 weekly TRPs prime, a steak and a martini). The exception is advertisers with a strong interest in performance marketing and response measures, who have already fully embraced online performance marketing. They are the ones who have begun to apply pressure to create measures for traditional media channels that look like those for digital media.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:57 AM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I will say this- for me, the biggest benefit from the move to PPMs is the ability to capture out-of-home viewing. However, the potential to capture simultaneous multiple media exposure and move to true single-source measurement still remains unexploited.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:01 AM on February 3, 2011


I should also add, WRT the conservatism of investment directors. Most TV (in North America, at least) is still purchased during the annual Upfronts. If you're committing hundreds of millions of dollars at a single time, you had better be crystal clear on your measures and how they compare to previous years'.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:27 AM on February 3, 2011


To be fair, I think the TV companies use several differetn metrics these days.

For example they look at viewing figures on Hulu and elsewhere online (I think that this was used in The Office's defence early on when the ratings weren't that great), and also they look at DVD sales (Family Guy was brought back by Fox after huge DVD sales of the first 3 series).

Also, as this article in AdAge shows, MTV are looking at the buzz on twitter for Skins, and using that in conjunction with the ratings to assess its popularity.
posted by DanCall at 5:48 AM on February 3, 2011


The most staggering part of the article for me, was the statistic that Americans spend, on average, 34 hours a week watching television. This to me seems almost impossible.

Why is that? To this American, that stat seems actually on the low end.
posted by blucevalo at 5:54 AM on February 3, 2011


blucevalo: That's nearly 5 hours a day! On average! Does your typical day consist of nothing but sleep, work, watch telly?
posted by salmacis at 6:14 AM on February 3, 2011


Well, to be fair, they probably watch 10 hours a day on saturday and sunday.

I, on the other hand, haven't had cable for 2 years now and don't miss it.

Seriously, if you are at all strapped for cash and are looking for a way to save money, do it.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on February 3, 2011


(that wasn't at all to say 'i'm too good for tv'... all the time saved from not watching tv has been wasted on videogames instead)
posted by empath at 6:24 AM on February 3, 2011


I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system.

I don't know about "most", but I can assure you some of the people they are measuring do. We were a Nielsen family for a month or so back in the seventies. Even back then I realized the leverage their sample size gave me when the results were extrapolated to the viewing public as a whole. This was in the days where you had to keep a diary (which was kind of a nuisance; watching TV is supposed to be passive, dammit!) and so the results were wholly dependent on the person recording them. So if there was a show on that I didn't care about I wouldn't bother to record it if I was doing something more interesting; on the other hand, you can be sure I recorded watching Charlie's Angels each week, whether or not I actually watched it (I was a teen-aged boy, after all).
posted by TedW at 6:46 AM on February 3, 2011


I'm more surprised that the cable companies haven't begun to collect better analytics with their own set-top boxes.

They care who is watching TV, not just whether it is on. If you can't prove it's an 18-49 viewer, the stats are worthless.

The most staggering part of the article for me, was the statistic that Americans spend, on average, 34 hours a week watching television. This to me seems almost impossible. I'd love to see a comparison with other countries.

It is not equally distributed among ages. 18-24 watches 26:14, while 65+ watches 47:21. Retired people watch a lot of TV because they don't have jobs. Source.
posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on February 3, 2011


My household has been a Nielsen household, but I suppose we were being "passively monitored" because we never got a box, just the journal. The Nielsen people were memorably super-nice and did pay us. And yes, I did feel compelled to stop watching World's Craziest Police Explosions and tune in to Nature.
posted by heatvision at 6:52 AM on February 3, 2011


To lesli212's "better ads" comment, it's long been suspected that what we refer to as "great ads" don't sell product. Heck, Ogilvie references this in his books, and you can go back through the Clio winners, play the first 10 seconds of the ad, say "Oh, yeah, that ad was great! But I don't remember what the product was..."

I giggled over the Old Spice guy and the various parodies, but I haven't bought any Old Spice product...

But my other long-held theory is that part of the reason mass media sucks is that discerning consumers are a small enough portion of the market, and one that's hard enough to reach, that they can be ignored. If your audience has enough critical thinking ability that they're not easily swayed by ads, then it's not worth trying to target a TV show or magazine to them.
posted by straw at 7:16 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've heard that the 'non-memorable' commercials were sometimes the most effective.
Your subconscious mind remembers them when you're at the store.
No idea if that's true. It seems it would be better tested by sale figures than 'do you remember this product?'
posted by MtDewd at 7:32 AM on February 3, 2011


Ron Burgundy: Hey, leave the mothers out of this. It's unnecessary. Besides, I'm sure Wes here is just upset about finishing second in the ratings again.

Wes Mantooth: That's completely uncalled for, Burgundy. You know those rating systems are flawed. They don't take in account houses that have, uh, more than two television sets, and other things of that nature.

Ron Burgundy: I guess I have to take you at your word... No. 2.
posted by cirripede at 7:33 AM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


As an aside, I was interested in the numbers for the Reagan Inaugural vs. the Obama Inaugural.
According to Wikipedia, Reagan's 1st was on January 20, 2345.
It seems there will be more viewers in the future.
posted by MtDewd at 7:44 AM on February 3, 2011


I've heard that the 'non-memorable' commercials were sometimes the most effective.

75% of the battle on most goods is the name-item link. "I need a glass cleaner, hey, Windex!" There are exceptions. Gas is one -- most people don't care, they go to the first station they find when they need it, mod price -- if there's an obviously cheaper one in sight, they'll go there instead. Cigarettes are on the other side -- extremely high brand loyalty, will not buy another unless unavailable (and sometimes, not even then,) regardless of price.

But most purchases -- even expensive ones -- have a fairly large spontaneous quotient. You don't go out to buy a Sony TV, you go out to buy a TV -- but all those Sony commercials are there to link "Sony" to "TV" in your mind.

Politics is similar. There will be two or three guys running for President in 2012 that you'll think "who? Why are they running?" Answer: They know they can't win in 2012 -- but by running, they get press, and more name recognition, so come 2016, they are now established names in politics.
posted by eriko at 7:54 AM on February 3, 2011


If your audience has enough critical thinking ability that they're not easily swayed by ads, then it's not worth trying to target a TV show or magazine to them.

There are ads targeted at people who think they're not easily swayed by ads. One example would be the seeming "bites the hand that feeds you" product placement on "30 Rock." There have been straight ad campaigns too that are designed to appeal to the consumer who thinks of themselves as too smart for ads. Usually these ads make fun of the idea of advertising.
posted by drezdn at 8:09 AM on February 3, 2011


In the early 2000s when I had dial-up, a landline, an answering machine, and a motorola startac (referred to as my 'communications array'), I was a Nielsen family of one. They sent me five dollars in cash and a little book to record what I watched. Never filled it out, never sent it in.

To this day I blame only myself for the cancellation of Firefly. Sorry everyone.
posted by stet at 8:10 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I were a Nielsen family, I'd hack the system so my favorite show, "Polka Jamboree" could get great ratings.
posted by drezdn at 8:10 AM on February 3, 2011


They cite the Obama inauguration, but I ask you: ARE THERE REALLY THAT MANY FANS OF TWO AND A HALF FUCKING MEN?

Long have I wondered this myself. I have never met a single person anywhere who claims to watch it, never heard an amusing line from it repeated, indeed never herad it mentioned in any context other than Toxic train-wreck Charlie Sheen, star of Two and A Half Men, was arraigned today or Who the fuck watches this show? And yet it is staggering in its ubiquity.

A bit tangential, but here's a case in point: Westjet, the Southwest-clone No. 2 airline here in Canada, has pay-per-view on its seatback TVs. On longer flights, you can pay $5.99 and watch a new-release movie or like two bucks or something to watch an older movie. On flights less than two hours, there is pay-per-view TV. Pay $1.99, watch an episode of Mad Men, that sort of thing.

So I'm on a Westjet flight a couple weeks back, and I'm flipping through the pay-per-view. One of the options is - yes - Two and a Half Men. An offer, that is, to pay $1.99 to watch a couple old episodes of one of the most ubiquitously syndicated sitcoms on TV right now.

Now, I can't speak for what sort of market research went into these offerings, but I'm not sure I want to go on in a world where people would pay 2/3 of the cost of one of those mini-cans of Pringles to subject themselves to Two and a Half Men. On the other hand, if we could capture the ordering info of anyone who made this purchase in a database, we would have an excellent list of who to lock up in the basement in a crisis when we need to be on our game, like they did with Bart and the bullies on The Simpsons episode where Supernintendo Chalmers was coming for an inspection.
posted by gompa at 8:14 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system.

My wife remembers during basketball season, with no time to watch TV, filling out the Neilsen Diary with all the shows she liked as a measure of support.
posted by milestogo at 9:07 AM on February 3, 2011


"Better ads" are, on balance, absurdly expensive.

Not really. The cost of developing and producing a campaign, even an expensive one, pales in comparison to the cost of buying the media to actually put it on the air. The difference is that the ad agencies get a commission on media buys, whereas production costs are just a cost, so they're strongly motivated to spend less on production and more on media.
posted by dersins at 10:32 AM on February 3, 2011


I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system.

I got the local diaries, where you just do it for a week for your area. I made sure to put down all the shows I planned to watch, even if I didn't watch them.

Given that, it's kind of tedious to lie after a while. Especially since time-shifting requires writing down twice as much.
posted by smackfu at 10:41 AM on February 3, 2011


blucevalo: That's nearly 5 hours a day! On average! Does your typical day consist of nothing but sleep, work, watch telly?

Of course not. Some of us listen to podcasts instead!
posted by pwnguin at 10:45 AM on February 3, 2011


I have never met a single person anywhere who claims to watch [Two and a Half Men]

I was friends with a married couple for quite some time. I discovered they watched this show a few years back when a mutual acquaintance was on the short-lived CBS sit-com. The Class. The Class was on after How I Met Your Mother, so we would watch that together, and then The Class, and then...

ME: Change the channel! Hurry! Cover your eyes!
THEY: But Two and a Half Men is coming on...
[awkward silence]

We're not really friends anymore. I never attributed that to this incident, although...
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:22 AM on February 3, 2011


I wonder if most Nielsen families realize just how much power they have, and if they ever purposefully game the system.

We might have. It is possible that we would turn the TV on to Monk even if we were too busy doing other things to watch it. Of course, this is completely hypothetical and would not hold up in a court of law.

While we were a Nielsen family, we used to get calls every now and then asking if we could mash a button to test whether the device was working. I would go and do it, and then the person on the other end would say, "It seems to be working fine. Have you been on vacation or something?" "No," I would say. "Well, the box hasn't transmitted any data for the past four days!" "Yes," I would say. "That's because we don't watch TV every day." I think we ruined the curve.

As for "Two and a Half Men," my late mother-in-law loved it and so does my dad's lady friend. So they've got that crucial 70+-year-old lady demographic sewn up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:42 PM on February 3, 2011


ARE THERE REALLY THAT MANY FANS OF TWO AND A HALF FUCKING MEN?

Long have I wondered this myself. I have never met a single person anywhere who claims to watch it


I watched it on and off over about two seasons. My DVR would catch it, and I'd put it on in the background. I eventually stopped when I realized that every episode had pretty much the same plot, they got rid of the crazy neighbor who was actually kind of fun, and I found myself losing entire half hours in which I hadn't really thought about anything at all.

That's when I realized the danger of the show, it allows you to nearly completely shut off your brain. Happily, voluntarily even, but no brain thinky.

Didn't like that.
posted by quin at 1:09 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, expanding on that idea, here is my summation of what makes Two and a Half Men appealing, as a stream of consciousness conversation:

Shows on, good, ohh, pretty girl in guy's bed room, something funny, people are laughing. I like laughing, Guy drinks a lot, because he's a failure with people, but he's rich. I drink a lot and am a failure with people too, but I could also be rich. Like him. With the pretty girl. The boy is getting big, weird, he was little just a bit ago. Now he's sort of tall. and round. Another joke, I think. People are laughing again. His dad is also a failure, but not in a rich drunk way, so I'd rather not be like him. But he does have a job, and that's pretty cool. His ex wife is a bitch, but she's usually right, so that's why he's sad. He should listen to his rich drunk brother more. People are laughing, there must be a joke, the angry big lady in the kitchen is scowling, so guy must be drunk and have done something dumb. Oh, shows over. They didn't show the pretty girl again. I'll have to watch next week, look lots of small writing... oops, now it's gone.

Seriously, it's completely tranquilizing. It's Quaaludes in a viewable electronic format.
posted by quin at 1:23 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The article and comments have confirmed that my decision to turn down being a Nielsen household. We don't have cable and we don't have an antenna; all we ever do is watch Netflix instant and DVDs and occasionally something from the iTunes store. So I didn't think we were a good sample, and figured Nielsen would agree, right?

The Nielsen folks called and told me we'd been selected to be a Nielsen household about like I'd won the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes and the journal and/or box was a prize check. I said "thanks but no thanks; we don't watch TV". Then came the hard sell about how important our participation was, like it was a public service or mandated like the census instead of unpaid work for a private company to get demographic data to sell to advertisers. So I had to get increasingly forceful in the saying of no before hanging up, and had a hard time doing so without getting rude. Then they called back twice later at different times, clearly looking for someone else, aka my husband, in hopes of getting a different answer. The second time resulted in me invoking the Do Not Call list and just hanging up on the bastards.

You can turn the honor down, but it's surprisingly hard work to do so.
posted by immlass at 1:45 PM on February 3, 2011


Any random sample has to try really hard to get the randomly selected people to join. Otherwise it risks not being a random sample, if there is a common thread between the refusers. Yes, not watching TV is a a pretty valid reason (although you should probably be included in the sample anyways as never watching anything). But I assume they suspect you are just saying that to get rid of them.
posted by smackfu at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2011


Nielsen sent me five bucks and like stet I kept it, but I sent them a letter saying "I don't have a television, won't buy one and have no interest in it at all." Never heard from them again. I thought an organization that hadn't the sense to ask whether I had a television before sending me a fat envelope with money, booklets and exhortations was a pretty silly one.
posted by jet_silver at 2:23 PM on February 3, 2011


it allows you to nearly completely shut off your brain. Happily, voluntarily even, but no brain thinky.

Gah. That explains a lot.

Now someone tell me why I find "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory" to be boring as paint drying.
posted by grubi at 2:50 PM on February 3, 2011


As for "Two and a Half Men," my late mother-in-law loved it and so does my dad's lady friend. So they've got that crucial 70+-year-old lady demographic sewn up.

OH MY GOURD, you're right. My mother (now in her mid-seventies) watches it too, and judging by the few conversations I've had with her contemporary-aged friends about TV, so do they. I never did figure out why, since Mom frowns on jokes about sexual promiscuity, flatulence, and heavy drinking.

I've only seen the show a handful of times, always while visiting my parents, but I remember my now-late father (who was a big fan of fart jokes in general) disdainfully referred to it as "the show with the child and all the fart jokes."
posted by Elsa at 2:54 PM on February 3, 2011


Now someone tell me why I find "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory" to be boring as paint drying.

Because your soul is an empty pit of despair which sucks the joy out of the very air around you, leaving you a hollow, empty shell of a person who feels nothing but apathy for even the most wondrous of things?





Bazinga!

Probably just a matter of taste thing. Try Community, it's a bit more cerebral at times.
posted by quin at 2:58 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're boring because they are cliche sitcoms.
posted by saul wright at 3:01 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with you, saul wright. At the very least, I think the "nerd" bit is just that: a bit. A really poorly-done bit. "Hey ain't these geeks just *silly*? Huh-yuck!" And I think all the geeks I know who like it are fans because it's nice to be acknowledged, even if badly.

And quin: I adore Community. It's super-sharp. Gonna watch it again tonight in two hours. :-)
posted by grubi at 3:07 PM on February 3, 2011


We were just a Nielsen family, and we got the paper diary. First off all, its a giant pain in the ass to be constantly writing down things (and with the dvr recordings you have to remember what channel they were on and when it was recorded). Secondly, they don't have any way to account for alternative viewing of any kind. iTunes? Nope. Hulu? No. The networks' sites? No. Bittorrenting those shows? Not at all. In my opinion it didn't change our viewing habits, but we did feel a little bad that some of the shows we usually watch happened to have an off week.

Bottom line, I wouldn't do it again, unless they coughed up more than $10 or ffs make some kind of web page to make entering this stuff easier.
posted by thewalledcity at 4:53 PM on February 3, 2011


The nerd sitcom you want is called The IT Crowd, and in the US is shown on the IFC channel.
posted by Artw at 5:11 PM on February 3, 2011


We were a Nielsen family but instead of some diary they attached an extra box to our tv and gave us an additional remote. We all had a number (even me, but I was at school for most of the year) and there were even settings for adding guests. When they initially pitched to us no one else was really interested but I convinced them to sign up - the idea being that it would help keep the shows we liked on the air. It was never a big hassle, the worst of it was that sometimes the lights on the box would flash and we would have to re-key who was watching - to make sure we were still there I guess.

Then my brother and his family moved out and they took the box away. The tech guy, and it was always the same guy, said something about how they'd be getting the data from cable boxes directly in the future. It wasn't even that long ago, but if we were a Nielsen family now I don't know how much data they'd get out of us - so much of what we watch now is either online or recorded on our PVR, the only live TV that gets watched is the news, Indian shows and the occasional Sunday basketball game. What they would need now is a device that records everything you see and hear, and I find it hard to believe that people would go for that.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:20 PM on February 3, 2011


We were a Nielsen family but instead of some diary they attached an extra box to our tv and gave us an additional remote. We all had a number (even me, but I was at school for most of the year) and there were even settings for adding guests.

Yes, that was what we had. It was fairly annoying, but I reveled in the power.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:02 PM on February 3, 2011


Oh, Artw, I know that show so well. Brilliance.

"Oim disehhhbled!"
posted by grubi at 7:24 PM on February 3, 2011


The D&D episode is the best D&D episode of anything ever.
posted by Artw at 7:49 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can't stand Big Bang Theory - it just seems like it's all annoying geek/nerd stereotypes that just grate, but I _loved_ The IT Crowd. Which is all geek/nerd stereotypes, but told from the perspective of the nerd, not the outsider, I guess? When I look at Sheldon, I don't see my peeps- I see a caricature of my peeps, but Roy and Moss well... I've been Roy and I know Moss personally.
posted by Kyol at 8:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kyol: you hit the nail on the head.

And, Artw, speaking of D&D episodes, last night, Community aired their own D&D episode. Damnedest thing.
posted by grubi at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2011


salmacis: blucevalo: That's nearly 5 hours a day! On average! Does your typical day consist of nothing but sleep, work, watch telly?

I don't watch that much now, but from birth until I was old enough to drink (and until broadband was more or less ubiquitous)? 5 hours of TV was a warm-up.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:23 AM on February 4, 2011


Does your typical day consist of nothing but sleep, work, watch telly?

And internet. Yes.
posted by grubi at 6:40 AM on February 4, 2011


but I _loved_ The IT Crowd. Which is all geek/nerd stereotypes, but told from the perspective of the nerd, not the outsider,

This is true, in that IT Crowd reminds me of all those terribly unfunny complaints about stupid users like Bastard Operator from Hell. To be honest, I really only like it when it gets out of the office.
posted by smackfu at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2011


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