Nielsen Media Research

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Nielsen Media Research
Industry Media Research
Founded1996;25 years ago (1996)
Headquarters85 Broad Street, ,
Area served
Parent Nielsen Holdings

Nielsen Media Research (NMR) is an American firm that measures media audiences, including television, radio, theatre films (via the AMC Theatres MAP program) and newspapers. NMR, headquartered in New York City, is best known for the Nielsen ratings, an audience measurement system of television viewership that for years has been the deciding factor in canceling or renewing television shows by television networks. As of May 2012, it is part of Nielsen Holdings.



Nielsen Media Research, once one of the largest media research companies in the world, began as a division of ACNielsen, a marketing research firm. In 1996, Nielsen Media Research was split off into an independent company and in 1999, was purchased by the Dutch conglomerate VNU. In 2001, VNU also purchased ACNielsen, thereby bringing both companies under the same corporate umbrella. [1] VNU was reorganized and renamed the Nielsen Company in 2007.

The Nielsen TV Ratings have been produced in the USA since the 1950-51 television season and statistically measure which programs are watched by different segments of the population. The most well-known portion is the "diary". During the four "sweeps" months of February, May, July and November, Nielsen interviewers in Oldsmar, Florida and Radcliff, Kentucky ask homes to participate in filling out a diary of the programs watched in their home for a one-week period.

The Nielsen sample included roughly 1,700 audiometer homes and rotating board of nearly 850 diary respondents, by the early 1980s. Nielsen launched its Nielsen Homevideo Index (NHI) in 1980 to measure cable, pay cable, and VCRs, and the NHI began offering daily cable ratings in 1982. Nielsen's continued to advance with steady changes into the mid 2000s (decade). Along with changing their counting methods, Nielsen also started emphasizing their sample in 2003 in reaction to census shifts and requests from some industry sectors. Nielsen's automated Local People Meter (LPM) technology was introduced in New York and Los Angeles. The LPM improved the method of measurement from active and diary-based to passive and meter-monitored. More importantly, the LPM provides accurate measurements to particular local markets, verse a nationwide sample from the People meter. While diary-based surveys concentrated on quarterly sweeps periods, the industry has been pushed toward year-round measurement, due to the automated LPM system.

In 1996 Nielsen Media Research began tracking computer, internet, and video game usage through telephone surveys. [2] Nielsen Media Research is a sister company to Nielsen NetRatings, which measures Internet and digital media audiences through a telephone and internet survey, and Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which measures Consumer-Generated Media. Nielsen also conducts market research for the film industry through National Research Group (NRG).

In September 2018, Nielsen acquired SuperData Research, an industry analysis firm that deals with tracking viewing habits within the video game and eSports areas, an area that Nielsen plans to expand into. [3] Later, in April 2021, Nielsen stated they will close down SuperData and move its analysis and tracking into Nielsen Sports. [4]

In September 2020, Nielsen started compiling a weekly Top 10 list of most watched shows on streaming platforms. [5]

Corporate affairs

Nielsen has its headquarters in Lower Manhattan, New York City. [6] [7]

The company maintains an office in Oldsmar, Florida. Most of the employees of Nielsen Media Research work in Oldsmar, and the company's media measurement work originates from the office. The Associated Press said that the Oldsmar building, with a cost figure of $80 million, was "its so-called nerve center."

Initial public offering

Nielsen went in for an IPO (NYSE :  NLSN) in January 2011 and was the largest public offer in the United States in the previous four years. Being the largest IPO for a firm backed by private equity at $1.64 billion, the IPO was well received and closely watched by all big banks and private equity boutiques [8] On March 1, 2011 they announced the appointment of Liz Zale as Senior Vice President for Investor Relations. Liz Zale was previously Vice President for Investor Relations at Moody's Corporation (NYSE :  MCO). [9]

Nielsen SVOD content ratings

Starting in September 2020, Nielsen releases a weekly list of top 10 television shows most watched on streaming platforms, or subscription video on demand (SVOD). [10]

This immediately attracted attention by mainstream media, such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and Business Insider. [11] [12] [13] [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Nielsen Corporation, self-referentially known as The Nielsen Company, and formerly known as ACNielsen or AC Nielsen, is a global marketing research firm, with worldwide headquarters in New York City, United States. Regional headquarters for North America are located in Chicago.

The Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) is the organisation that compiles audience measurement and television ratings in the United Kingdom. It was created in 1981 to replace two previous systems whereby ITV ratings were compiled by JICTAR, whilst the BBC did their own audience research.

This was the United States television schedule on all three commercial television networks for the fall season beginning in September 1985. All times are Eastern and Pacific, with certain exceptions, such as Monday Night Football.

Nielsen Holdings American information, data and measurement company

Nielsen Holdings PLC is an American, UK-domiciled, information, data and market measurement firm. Nielsen operates in over 100 countries and employs approximately 44,000 people worldwide.

A people meter is an audience measurement tool used to measure the viewing habits of TV and cable audiences.

A media market, broadcast market, media region, designated market area (DMA), television market area, or simply market is a region where the population can receive the same television and radio station offerings, and may also include other types of media such as newspapers and internet content. They can coincide or overlap with one or more metropolitan areas, though rural regions with few significant population centers can also be designated as markets. Conversely, very large metropolitan areas can sometimes be subdivided into multiple segments. Market regions may overlap, meaning that people residing on the edge of one media market may be able to receive content from other nearby markets. They are widely used in audience measurements, which are compiled in the United States by Nielsen Media Research. Nielsen measures both television and radio audiences since its acquisition of Arbitron, which was completed in September 2013.

Audience measurement measures how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership, but also in relation to newspaper and magazine readership and, increasingly, web traffic on websites. Sometimes, the term is used as pertaining to practices which help broadcasters and advertisers determine who is listening rather than just how many people are listening. In some parts of the world, the resulting relative numbers are referred to as audience share, while in other places the broader term market share is used. This broader meaning is also called audience research.

Television ratings in Australia are used to determine the size and composition of audiences across Australian broadcast and subscription television, primarily for the purpose of informing advertisers what programming is popular with the audience they are attempting to sell their product or service to.

OzTAM is an Australian audience measurement research firm that collects and markets television ratings data. It is jointly owned by the Seven Network, the Nine Network and Network Ten, and is the official source of television ratings data for all metropolitan television in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth as well as subscription services on a national basis.

Birch Radio Ratings was a United States media audience measurement service that was founded in 1978 and grew internally and through acquisitions in the 1980s.

Numeris is a Canadian audience measurement organization. Established on May 11, 1944 as a division of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Numeris is the primary provider of viewership numbers for television and radio broadcasters in Canada.

Portable People Meter Proprietary electronic system used for radio and television ratings gathering

The Portable People Meter (PPM), also known as Nielsen Meter, is a system developed by Arbitron to measure how many people are exposed or listening to individual radio stations and television stations, including cable television. The PPM is worn like a pager, and detects hidden audio tones within a station or network's audio stream, logging each time it finds such a signal.

Médiamétrie, established in 1985, is a public limited company specialising in audience measurement and research into audio-visual and digital media usage in France. It is especially well known for its Audimat brand whose name is now part of everyday language; today, however, that brand is named Médiamat.

Television news ratings in Australia are collected by three main organisations: OzTAM in metropolitan areas, Regional TAM in regional areas serviced by three commercial television networks, and in areas with two commercial networks, Nielsen Media Research Australia. Ratings are collected for 40 weeks during the year, excluding a two-week break during Easter and ten weeks over summer. The majority of locally produced news and public affairs top the rating charts week after week.

Scarborough is a United States-based market research company that measures shopping patterns, media usage across platforms, and lifestyle trends of adults. Specializing in local and national consumer research, Scarborough measures over 100 local markets in the United States. Scarborough is headquartered in New York City.

Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) is a trade group founded in 2009 by television content providers, media agencies and advertisers to explore ways to measure audiences across media in the United States.

The Council for Research Excellence (CRE) is an independent research group created in 2005 and funded by Nielsen, with a mandate to advance the knowledge and practice of audience measurement methodology. The CRE identifies specific methodological research projects, selects research providers and reports the findings to Nielsen's client base. The organization has numerous working committees including: Big Data, Digital Research, Education, Local Measurement, Media Consumption & Engagement, Return Path Measurement, ROI, Sample Quality and Social Media. CRE is headquartered in New York City.

The Media Rating Council (MRC) is a United States-based nonprofit organization that manages accreditation for media research and rating purposes.


  1. FABRIKANT, GERALDINE (13 August 2011). "Big Makeover for Dutch Media Data Company". New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
  2. "Tidbits...". Electronic Gaming Monthly . Ziff Davis (82): 20. May 1996.
  3. Grubb, Jeff (September 5, 2018). "Nielsen acquires SuperData Research to better track digital games and esports". Venture Beat . Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  4. Dealessandri, Marie (April 1, 2021). "Nielsen to close down SuperData". . Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  5. "Nielsen launches weekly top 10 list of most popular shows on streaming platforms". Los Angeles Times. September 3, 2020.
  6. "Univision sues over Nielsen's meters." Associated Press at the St. Petersburg Times . June 11, 2004. Retrieved on August 28, 2011.
  7. "Contact Us Archived 2011-08-29 at the Wayback Machine ." Nielsen Holdings. Retrieved on August 28, 2011. "The Nielsen Company, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-9595"
  8. Cowan, Lynn (26 January 2011). "Nielsen, Demand Media Jump on Debut". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  9. Bouryal, Kristie. "The Nielsen Company Appoints Liz Zale Senior Vice President for Investor Relations". Nielsen Press Room. The Nielsen Company. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  10. Nunan, Tom. "Nielsen Announces Top 10 Streaming Winners With Big Surprises". Forbes.
  11. "'The Boys' Stays in Nielsen's Streaming Top 10". The Hollywood Reporter. October 8, 2020.
  12. Thorne, Will (November 5, 2020). "'Haunting of Bly Manor' and 'Emily in Paris' Hit Nielsen's Streaming Top 10 List".
  13. Hayes, Dade (October 22, 2020). "'Ratched', 'Enola Holmes' Top Nielsen Streaming List, With 'Schitt's Creek' Cracking Top 10". Deadline.
  14. Clark, Travis. "Nielsen now measures Disney Plus and Hulu in its weekly ranking of top streaming TV shows and movies. But the list is still dominated entirely by Netflix". Business Insider.