Wes Mantooth is a fictional character played by Vince Vaughn in the movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy.” So no, the update to the last post was not seriously an e-mail I actually received. However, I know a lot more about how Nielsen ratings work than I did two hours ago. One insider both got the joke and clarified a few things about the Pew poll v. the Nielsens. He writes:
Although I know some of your comments were probably a joke, I just want to let you know that you’re exactly right when it comes to questioning the Pew poll’s findings about CNN and then comparing it to what Nielsen Media Research says folks actually watched. With some of my professional credentials out on the table, I can tell you that, despite its many flaws, the Nielsen sample does indeed measure homes with multiple television sets. In fact, they measure practically every device in a home including, just recently for their local samples and in their national sample on January of ‘06, Digital Video Recorders.
Additionally, I can honestly say that when we argue with NMR about sample methodology problems and how it impacts viewing measurement we are often talking about small, but very important, errors in ratings. That said, something as large and robust as a cable ranker that shows so many FOX News programs in the top 40 isn’t something any reasonable research or programming executive would quibble about. I mean you could argue that FOX should maybe only have 25 shows in the top 40 if the national sample were truly representative of US TV homes but why bother? FOX News dominates CNN whether its 35 of the top 40 shows or only 25.
So, you’re right, the Pew sample is garbage and the ratings directly contradict Pew’s findings. Of course, Ron Burgundy would know all that.
Take that, Mantooth.