Almost a Nielsen Family

A few months ago, my wife got a call from the Nielsen organization.  Nielsen, as you may know, reports television ratings for the country.  They asked a few questions, specifically if we were interested in becoming a Nielsen "family" where our TV watching habits would be tracked.

A month went by, and we got another call.  We were in!  Honestly, I was pleased.  I watch TV.   Having Nielsen record our TV habits would translate into higher ratings for shows we enjoy, hopefully ensuring they would continue.   There are 400 families in SE Wisconsin who are, let's just face it, our Television Overlords. 

What they watch is important.  If they don't watch your favorite show, it gets canceled.  Case in point, last fall, NBC rolled out a new show called "Journeyman".  I got hooked, and after a number of episodes, it was my favorite show.  It was one of the few smart, interesting shows on the tube.  Of course, you know how this ends.  It's been canceled, probably replaced by a reality show about makeovers for house pets.  Or the wild world of crocodile dentists.

So being a Nielsen family gives you a say in what's "good" on TV.  We are at their mercy.  If they like it, you see more of it.  Bow down before them.

Nielsen came out this week to hook my television up to their system, or so I thought.  It turned out to be much more than just the TV.  Truly, it hadn't been completely explained, the extent to which they monitor. 

They open your TV and insert a gadget.  They open your cable box and insert another gadget.  Oh, and your DVD player?  Another gadget.  They not only record your TV watching, but what DVDs you play as well.   This made me uncomfortable, not because I'm embarrassed to be caught renting Howard the Duck movies, but because they are opening and tinkering with every piece of home electronics I own.  And monitoring every ounce of what I do in my living room, every show, every button push.   Behind my TV was a cornucopia of new devices, a computer, power supply, modem, and UPS and a few dozen new cables.    Had I known the extent of the electronic surgery, I would have declined. 

But.  I allowed them to continue because I wanted to be part of that Television Overlord group.  I thought I could single-handedly bring the A-Team back to prime-time.  And, of course, the Tom Crean show and all Marquette games would have had huge rating spikes.  Oh yeah, and I was psyched that every time a local newscast was blathering on about a BIG STORM, I'd flip them off.  Double entendrically, of course.

Unfortunately, I have one device they'd never seen before.  A relatively simple "one-box" speaker that my TV, DVD, and stereo use.  In their third (3rd) hour of installation, they decided they couldn't completely monitor the speaker, so they were calling it quits. 

They promptly removed all the electronics, and presto, we were dumped.

I didn't put up a fight.  I was somewhat pleased to see them remove their equipment from my stuff.  The dozen cables I'd spent years getting just right were thankfully put back the way I had them.  They were polite and apologetic about the whole ordeal, of course. 

We're back to being television watchers just like you:  Simple TV watching peasants, begging for crumbs off of their television overlords; voiceless.


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