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 TV By
USA TODAY also lists
the previous week's ratings in the Wednesday edition of the paper (look
in the LIFE section, under TELEVISION.)
Magazines TV Week (click graphic on the left) and
Entertainment Weekly also have
a downloadable page of the week's ratings.
For a list of the top 15 cable
programs of the week, click
here. (NOTE, click on CABLE SERIES, to get the latest
NOTE: Ratings for all of a week's network programs are available in a
handy one page format in the weekly professional publication Broadcasting
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.
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.
your students read The
Ratings Game and/or print out this backgrounder from How Stuff
Do TV Ratings Work?
Recommended teaching resource:
Mass Communication How Television Ratings Work (DVD)