Tuesday, February 02, 2010


This piece ran on NPR's Tuesday's Morning Edition --
 Advertisers Push Nielsen To Count Online Viewers

I love NPR, but for the record -- the comments that were played on this segment were taken out of context from an entirely different interview.  It was the one I did last month about Leno moving out of the 10 pm slot.  I was asked to discuss the differences between the viewing habits of the nine and ten o'clock slots.  My reply was that I really didn't know what the viewing habits were.  I then went off on a bit of a tangent about how research that studied viewing habits was the worst thing to happen to writers since the invention of reality TV.  What I said had nothing to do with the Nielsens specifically.  I wasn't talking about research that measured numbers.  I was discussing research that attempted to identify viewing habits -- when, why, how people watch television.  That's the kind of research that executives live and die by.  They will base important creative decisions on "how they think people may respond" to a particular topic, character, serialization, etc.  So writers are subject to ridiculous mandates based on a completely inaccurate and arbitrary science.  How fucking honest and thorough are you when someone calls and interupts your day with, "do you mind taking a few minutes to answer some questions about..."  

That's what I was responding to when I said that "The worst thing to happen to television watching was research about television watching".  It was about statistical research shitting all over the creative process.  I was not commenting on the way the Neilsens measure viewers.