Math In The Media
Television Program Ratings
Each week, the news media report the top rated, most watched, television network programs. Teachers can easily locate this week’s ratings figures and/or a news story related to the ratings by going to Collider.
Before beginning this lesson/activity, it will be important to provide students with some background.
BACKGROUND In the television industry, the audits of people’s television viewing behavior that help determine where much of the money goes are called ratings. One firm, Nielsen Media Research, dominates this business. The stations, networks, and major advertisers foot most of the bill for the firm’s reports. Nielsen uses meters and diaries to determine viewing numbers.
(source: Media Today, An Introduction to Mass Communication, by Joseph Turow, Houghton-Mifflin, 1999 pg 280)
Teachers: For an excellent backgrounder, read this history of The Nielsens.
Have your students read The Ratings Game and/or print out this backgrounder from How Stuff Works: How Do TV Ratings Work?
Recommended teaching resource:
Mass Communication How Television Ratings Work (DVD)