Nielsen ratings have been the gospel of the TV bean counters since, well, forever since the Nielsen ratings were important to radio prior to TV.
This week there was an an "authoritative" story in AdAge this past week talking about how "Mad Men" is great art but not very good for TV business. The writer noted:
As AMC Networks disclosed Monday, the two-hour fifth-season premiere of "Mad Men" snatched the attention of approximately 3.5 million people, including about 1.8 million people between the ages of 18 and 49, the demographic advertisers covet most. It's the most-watched episode in the program's history.
And yet, those viewership numbers would make many TV executives gasp in horror. When "Lone Star" debuted on Fox in the fall of 2010 with 4.1 million viewers, for example, executives at the News Corp.network waited just one more week before pulling the plug on the series.
But interestingly enough "Mad Men" was #8 in social media hits according another story in AdAge this week. In fact, social media hits don't seem to correspond directly to Nielsen ratings at all. Consider this:
"Big Bang Theory" being #1 isn't a surprise as it does well in the Nielsen's. But #2 is "Fringe" which pulls lower ratings than most things on primetime broadcast TV and many cable shows. One might attribute this to tech nerd scifi fans. And maybe some of the others anomalies to the the young female viewers of shows on "The CW".
But there sits "Mad Men" just below ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars" and just above "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol."
Again, I have no idea what this means to advertisers, but as the guy who does the broadcast Nielsen ratings threads I thought others might find this interesting.