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Lynda Hirsch


Soap Opera Gossip The Daytime Emmy's slated to air on Sunday, April 26, over the POP network, are looking better and better all the time. First of all, it is not a down-to-the-wire "will or wont it be televised" situation. For the past few years, a week before the …Read more. Soap Opera Summaries "BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL:" Sensing that Maya is hiding something from him, Rick asks her to tell him more about her past. Nicole and Carter talk to Maya about the possible ramifications of disclosing that she is a transgender woman. Carter has a …Read more. Q&A Q. I was watching "Inside the Actors Studio" last week. The host, James Lipton, mentioned the days when he worked in soap operas. It was a random comment. Was he involved in soaps? A. Lipton, 88, wrote and produced soaps early in his career. In …Read more. Summary "BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL": Confused about Maya's revelation, Carter questions her about not disclosing that she was a transgender to him when they were engaged. Quinn puts Deacon on the spot to make a decision about who he wants to spend his future with. …Read more.
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A. What are the Nielsen ratings? Why are they important? — Cheryl of Boca Raton, Fla

B. The Nielsens are the reason why soap opera drama is on hyper mode. They are why reruns have been banished and exciting programming is offered. The Nielsens tell advertisers what shows are doing well in the ratings and which are not.

This translates into how much a network can charge for an ad. This month is very important for TV shows and TV viewers. We are in a ratings period now. It is called the May sweeps, and this year it began in mid-April. The term "sweeps" dates from 1954, when the Nielsens collected diaries from the East first; from there they would "sweep" west. Seven-day diaries (or eight-day diaries in homes with DVR's) are mailed to homes to keep a tally of what is watched on each television set and by whom. Over the course of a sweeps period, diaries are mailed to a new panel of homes each week. At the end of the month, all of the viewing data from the individual weeks is aggregated.

This local viewing information provides a basis for program scheduling and advertising decisions for local television stations, cable systems and advertisers.

The most commonly cited Nielsen results are reported in two measurements: ratings points and share, usually reported as: "ratings points/share." As of 2013, there were an estimated 115.6 million television households in the U.S., up 1.2 percent from the previous year because of the inclusion of televisions that receive content over the Internet.

A single national ratings point represents 1 percent of the total number, or 1,156,000 households for the 2013-14 season. Nielsen re-estimates the number of TV-equipped households each August for the upcoming television season.

Share is the percentage of television sets in use that are tuned to the program. For example, Nielsen may report a show as receiving a 9.2/15 during its broadcast, meaning that out of all television-equipped households, 9.2 percent were tuned in to that program, and out of all television-equipped households with a television currently in use, 15 percent were tuned in to that program.

There are daily Nielsens, but those let producers and networks know if they are the right track. The life of a show is dictated by Neilson ratings. Have they kept the ratings of the previous show? Have they shed viewers or are they higher? Electronic metering technology is the heart of the Nielsen ratings process. As TV viewing has cahnged, so have the Nielsens. In 2005, Nielsen announced plans to incorporate viewing by away-from-home college students into its sample. Internet TV viewing is another rapidly growing market for which Nielsen ratings fail to account for viewers. Apple iTunes, Hulu, YouTube and some of the networks' own websites (e.g.,, provide full-length Web-based programming, either subscription-based or ad-supported. Though websites can already track the popularity of a site, they can't track viewer demographics.

So grab a drink, a snack and enjoy TV higher mode in this sweep: "The last time TV was this good, it was February." Yep, it was a sweeps period.

To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



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