Several weeks ago, J and I received a card in the mail from the Nielsen Company letting us know that we had been chosen to be a Nielsen rating household.
Considering the fact that the rest of our mail that day consisted of bills and catalogs we did not request, I was pretty darn excited. (In actual fact, I would have been excited no matter what other mail we received. I have always thought it would be awesome to be a part of the Nielsen rating system. As a teenager pining for the cancelled My So-Called Life, I was certain that being a Nielsen family would have rectified all the inexplicable television decisions of my youth.)
We then fielded a follow-up phone call from Nielsen about a week later, and it was determined that we would, indeed, exercise power over the viewing habits of all America! (Imagine an evil laugh here). No, actually I just told them we were interested and let them know they could send the package of information to us anytime. It arrived yesterday and appears in the photograph above.
As excited as I am about this opportunity, there are several aspects of Nielsen rating that are not exactly as I expected:
1. We do not get to be almighty arbiters of what America will watch for the rest of our natural lives. I had always assumed that Nielsen families got to do this gig forever. I mean, they always talk about "Nielsen families," which has a bit of a long-term connotation to it. I mean, family is not a flighty word. But despite my hopes, apparently the usual time frame for taking part in this is a week.
2. The Nielsen rating system is decidedly low tech. Even back in the dark ages when using a remote control meant telling your little cousin to get up and change the station for you, I always thought that Nielsen had some sort of box attachment to see exactly what you kept your television tuned to. (It would be much more convenient for those families who are doing the Nielsen ratings for life, you see.) But apparently they rely on a paper TV watching diary and the honor system. (Because how much am I tempted to tell them I'm watching Masterpiece Theater when in fact Real Housewives is having a marathon?)
3. We're getting paid for our trouble! When the Nielsen Company called us to discuss our willingness to do this, they mentioned that we would receive $30 for our participation. Never did it occur to me that they would send the 30 bucks in cash. (It also makes me wonder how many unopened Nielsen packages have been taken to recycling with their magical cash contents left untouched.) J and I are thinking about spending the cash on takeout, which we'll eat in front of the television, natch.
Considering the fact that our television watching habits consist of PBS Kids in the morning (with no commercials) and The Daily Show and Top Gear from On Demand in the evening, I'm curious what they will conclude about our household. Perhaps that political ads and car commercials should be added to broadcasts of Curious George.
If that happens, we sincerely apologize.