Editor’s Note: This feature is a comment to a MediaPost article. Use the link below to read the full article. Scroll to the bottom of the piece to view the comment.
From Ed Papazian (Media Dynamics Inc.): I believe that we are kidding ourselves in thinking that we can measure average minute viewing—as opposed to set usage—of either program content or commercials with the people-meter.
The basic assumption underlying the people-meter system is that once a person claims to be “watching” a TV show—invariably at the outset of the tune in—that this remains in force for every second afterwards—unless the “viewer” indicates otherwise.
As such indications almost never happen, the “viewer” is assumed to be watching every second when, in fact, up to 10% may leave the room at a given point in the telecast while attentiveness levels move up and down—often to the point of not even looking at the screen—depending what is transpiring in the show and whether the “viewer” is interrupted by someone or some activity.
Let’s face it, the people-meter system was merely an attempt to replace handwritten diaries with an electric surrogate that would require compliance whenever the set was tuned to a given channel, as opposed to being filled out, by memory, in a diary days later. It was never intended to provide a defensible average minute “viewing” estimate.