PBS has announced that the broadcaster will subscribe to the Nielsen ratings service, which will provide comprehensive demographic ratings weekly for 40+ nationally distributed programs, including children’s and general audience shows. Previously, companies have often joined charitable trusts to support programming on the channel as a public service. There is also a prestige factor of being associated with valued and highly influential programming.
Data from Nielsen, with its full demographic information service, is crucial to TV marketers.
In the past, PBS has had a long-running deal with Nielsen that provided only viewership and household ratings data over the course of a 12-week span, once a month. Going forward, PBS will get full demographic ratings data 52-weeks a year thought Nielsen’s NPower service.
PBS is technically a commercial-free broadcasting service, but over the past few years, the network has increasingly put together the sponsorship deals with major television advertisers. Sponsorship messaging would air before and after PBS’ shows. PBS has not officially released demographic data. TV research executives have stated that there were unofficial ways of mining the precious data.
“PBS is meeting the evolving needs of our program supporters, who are essential partners in making our content available to the public. We continue to introduce new, innovative solutions to better meet our partners’ needs. The new Nielsen ratings service will provide current and potential sponsors with a detailed picture of the diverse audiences our programs serve,” said Andrew Russell, Senior Vice President, PBS Ventures.
The new service had debuted in 2009 with Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which earned 5.5 million viewers per episode. That’s an average household rating of 3.5 million.
PBS shows, including Antiques Roadshow, Masterpiece Theater, PBS NewsHour, NOVA, Nature and Frontline, as well as Curious George, Word World, Sid the Science Kid and Sesame Street, will now get weekly demographic rating information.
PBS provides programming to 355 member stations across the United States.
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