Monday, May 11, 2009

TV Land

We are on our way to becoming a Nielsen family. First came a phone call a few weeks ago, letting us know we'd be getting a packet in the mail. Then, an over-sized envelope came, along with a crisp five dollar bill. I excitedly filled out the questionnaire, happily telling them anything they needed to know. How many members are in our household? What are our ages, education? How many TVs do we own? Do they all work? Do we own a Tivo? Do we have cable? If so, with which company? Does it include DVR?

I answered each question truthfully, imagining all the while what a thrill it would be to be a Nielsen family, to actually have a "box" in our living room and therefore personally influence our national TV ratings! I'd lived in L.A. all my life and never known a single person who had a "box." Only a few short months living away from L.A. and I have already received a two-page questionnaire! Those suckers in L.A. What do they know!?

Two weeks later, another phone call. Would we be willing to track every single TV show we watch for one week? If so, they will send us a special log to complete and, this time, thirty dollars, in cool cash!! I immediately agreed. Why is my husband rolling his eyes when I tell him this? Does he not understand what a privilege this is?

Then, finally, last Wednesday the big packet came with the special log booklet, instructions, and thirty dollars cash (the twenty was a little dingy, though the ten was certainly fresher). The form was much more complicated than I had anticipated. We are asked to write in the complete name of every single show we watch for more than 5 minutes, the channel number, the station call letters, who watched it, for how long, what age each viewer is (at least that part's easy because we are both 56)... plus there was another questionnaire. Even though this is going to take a lot of effort to complete and be worth way more than $30 of my time, I still envision the prize, the pot of gold at the end of this questionnaire rainbow, the glorious box.

We have two more days to go, or should I say I have two more days to go, since my husband will have no part of filling out the form. He complicates things by constantly changing channels. Some people call this channel surfing. I call it plain annoying. Unable to keep up with him, I simply write in "Inside the NBA," "NCIS," "Star Trek," or anything ESPN for his slots.

I am beginning to feel that perhaps I am not watching enough hours and perhaps if I watch more TV we will have a better chance of getting a box. [Please note that nowhere in any of the Nielsen literature we have received has there ever been any mention of ever having a hope of getting a box. I am certain it is implied, however, and of course that's what this is all about.] I really don't have time to watch more TV though, so I write in a few shows that I would have watched if only I'd had the time. They couldn't possibly know the difference, anyway.


  1. This is a riot! Your musings brighten my day.

  2. no, no, no, you are not supposed to alter your behavior, or make things up! You are messing up the statistics!

  3. You know Carrie, you just didn't know she had a box. Please watch lots of Major League Soccer--or at least say you do. I'm afraid the ratings may have gone down when Nielson took away her box.