8A - Monday, November 2, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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A V E C U E A O Y
So Comedy Central recently a reason, I should like to think, ingthat those college-age TV
informed me via commercial that and maybe just once we should fans who report to Nielsen live
the pilot for "The Jeff Dunham let them have the say. If we went at home. This misrepresents our
Show" was its highest rated pre- just one year without looking at demographic's opinion; those of
miere to date. Nielsen ratings or any similar sys- us in college may enjoy different
Meanwhile, tem, the only basis there would be programming than those young
critics across for assessing a show's reception is adults living at home.
the country, criticism and word of mouth, the Now, not using Nielsen would
includingthose latter of which is not quantifiable not necessarily lead toalineup
for this pub- 4 , and often affected by criticism full of critically acclaimed, clever
lica"ion, tell anyway. series. Network executives know
me watching Ideally, assuming we critics are by now what succeeds and what
the stand-up JAME always right (which we are), there doesn't, and they may still try to
ventriloquist's BLOCK would be a year when all the utter reach the mindless masses who sit
show is about sludge slathered onto the screen down to watch VHl dating real-
as enjoyable as beinga real-life would meet a swift cancellation ity shows every night. But while
ventriloquist dummy. Needless to at the hands of the critics. People the execs may have a good guess,
say, there are some forces at odds wouldn't pander to the lowest they can't produce any numbers
here. common denominator of TV view- to show it except the ratings given
Now, from a TV producer's ers, which is very low and very by critics. And this is where the
perspective, the primary goal of common these days. advertisers come in.
television ought to be givingthe The Nielsen ratings system also Advertisers need numbers, or
viewers what they want. If they produces some skewed results. at least they should. You want
happen to want a shitty puppet First of all, the participants all to get your name attached to
show, then I guess we can give consent tobea part of it, meaning something popular. But maybe,
them one, and apparently we just they are fully aware what they just maybe, in a time when there
did. But as you may have noticed, were no numerical system to
this column is in the Arts sec- measure popularity, advertisers
tion and is about television, from Imagine there's would go to the next best thing
which you may be able to infer (or, arguably, the better thing) by
that television is an art. That said, fO Nielsen. targeting the shows that get posi-
maybe it's about time we treated tive critical response. It can be
TV more like an art form and less clearly measured and compared,
like abusiness model. watch is calculated into ratings. and since it's really money that
There are many culprits respon- During sweeps especially, many decides whether a show can con-
sible for the overall wane in TV report via a diary method, writing tinue or not, advertisers follow-
quality, but perhaps none so long- down and sending in what they ing critics leads to a more natural
standing as ratings behemoth watch. This often leads people, selection in the TV world.
Nielsen Media Research. Now, who for some reason want to look I would be remiss to make this
I'm not necessarily going to blame good to the people at Nielsen, to point without mentioning every
Nielsen for the onslaught of con- under-report watching daytime TV writer's mainstay: "Arrested
sumer trash that has taken over soaps and game shows and to over- Development." Each time it won
the tube. That would essentially report watching evening news and an Emmy, the Academy of Televi-
be shooting the messenger. But I prime time shows. More people sion Arts & Sciences was thanked
do think that we should ignore the write down the shows they feel for honoring the best showthat
messenger, because, even though they should watch, which could everyone refused to watch. Maybe
it's not intended, the messenger is just be the already-popular shows, if we take a little break from Niels-
causing alot of crap to get signed or, more often, the shows that en, the next great show won't meet
on for second seasons. make them look smarter. the same premature end.
As sweeps season fast There's also no system for
approaches, maybe it's time that, monitoring viewership from non- Block is writing in his TV diary. To
for the sake of art, we give Nielsen home locations. Dorms across tell him he's too old for this, e-mail
a break. We have TV critics for the country go untapped, mean- him at email@example.com.
WRITE FOR FINE ARTS. IT'S SUPER.
If you're super too, vend an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org for an application.
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