WHAT THE HELL IS ‘CHANGE THE SAMPLE’ YOU ASK? GET IN THE KNOW…
RU: Introduce yourself and tell us what you do.
RR: My name is Robert G. Rose and I’m CEO of AIM Tell-A-Vision Group and Executive Producer of American Latino TV and LatiNation, two weekly nationally syndicated TV programs targeted to U.S. Latinos in English.
RU: For those that aren’t in the know, in layman’s terms explain to our readers what "Change The Sample" is all about.
RR: Change the Sample is a grassroots initiative to educate the television industry, marketers, Wall Street and consumers at large on Nielsen’s erroneous and misleading method of monitoring U.S. Hispanic television viewing, which we contend contributes greatly to the under-representation and stereotyping of Latinos on mainstream, English language television.
RU: What is Nielsen?
RR: Nielsen Media Research is a TV Ratings company and the leading provider of television audience measurement in the world. They are the only widely used provider of TV ratings in the U.S. currently.
RU: How do they influence what we watch on television?
RR: Their ratings are used to determine audience levels for which advertisers use as a basis to negotiate advertising rates. The networks and local stations determine successful and unsuccessful programming based upon audience levels which in turn attract (or fail to attract) advertising
RU: Explain to us how their method of research is flawed.
RR: Since they don’t actually monitor everyone’s television viewing, Nielsen relies upon relatively small sampling data (about 10,000 homes total U.S.) to determine national viewing patterns claiming to match the population at large by matching the proper percentage of male to female ratio, age groups,
ethnic make up, etc. To do this they utilize U.S. Census data.
For the Hispanic sample, it’s crucial that the proper percentage of U.S. born vs. Foreign born Latinos are reflected in their sampling (60% U.S. born vs. 40% foreign born) because Nativity (where someone is born) is shown to be the most accurate way to determine several characteristics (median age,
consumption behavior and TV viewing in English or Spanish).
Research shows that Foreign-born Latinos watch only or mostly Spanish language TV whereas U.S. born Latinos watch only or mostly English language television.
However, absurdly and mind boggling to me, for the Hispanic Market, Nielsen ignores census data and Nativity. We think that is why we have this "Tail wagging the dog" scenario where Spanish TV gets undue credit for more viewers than actually watch and English language TV gets the short end of
the stick. Census data and all the other credible research on the planet says it should be the other way around. But remember, the Hispanic ratings service was developed about 15 years ago in CONJUNCTION with Spanish TV.
A by product of that is advertisers don’t support English language TV for Hispanics as much and therefore English TV Executives don’t develop Latino programming initiatives.
RU: Why did you start CTS?
RR: I scratched my head for years, wondering why the U.S. Hispanic market place has their priorities reversed with U.S. born Latinos (25 Million people) getting no attention from TV programmers or advertisers while almost all the attention and ad dollars (about 97%) was dedicated to Foreign born
Latinos (just 15 Million people).
We subscribe to Nielsen, so we’re a client but at a very small level. We wanted to increase our research capabilities and we were considering pumping more money into their services. I casually asked my sales reps if they could supply me with their sampling percentage of U.S. born Latinos since our show’s target U.S. born Latinos. After almost a year of Nielsen forgetting to "get back to me on that", a research company called Rincon and Associates released a fairly complex but excellent study on Nielsen and their method for monitoring Hispanic TV Viewing.
It spurred me to finally demand the information and they finally admitted they had no idea what percentage of their Hispanic sample was U.S. born or foreign born.
You had to pick me up off the floor that day. I couldn’t believe this multi-billion dollar company had gotten away with this shoddy research methodology for over 15 years. I felt I had found the missing piece of the puzzle but knew if we didn’t begin educating people about this immediately, these guys would just continue status quo as is and the status quo is unacceptable.
RU: What do you hope to accomplish with CTS?
RR: We feel if we can get broad support we can convince Nielsen to change their methodology to include accounting for Nativity and this will probably increase English-language ratings anywhere by 10-30% depending upon the market. This could provide the tipping point needed to see more Latino themed shows and programming on television.
RU: What can we expect from CTS in the near future as well as long term?
RR: In the short term, we have over 1500 petitions signed from mostly industry people and concerned consumers, that is already larger than Nielsen’s national Hispanic Sample (about 1,200)! We will keep the pressure up but we need more support. I’m urging people to go to www.changethesample.com and sign the petition and then tell their peers and friends.
Over the long term, what can I say except we won’t quit until we convince Nielsen to change. At the NATPE Convention in Las Vegas last month, the folks from Nielsen wanted to meet and we did. They agreed that they wanted to look at our points more seriously and that they were hiring an "independent’ Research company to compare their current language preference methodology (which is proven next to impossible to accurately gauge and has a host of other problems) versus our "Nativity" method.
If it’s a TRUE independent research company they use, then I’m confident, they’ll be changing quickly, however, my gut tells me this could be more or less a ruse designed to get us to take the pressure off.
Spanish TV and in particular Univision spends really big money on Nielsen’s Ratings and there is a lot at stake for them. Therefore, long term, we have to get the support of other BIGGER Nielsen clients like General market networks, local English language stations, etc. who have a stake in seeing
the sample change.
The big Broadcast networks have given us unofficial stamps of approval, now I have to navigate their bureaucracies and get their "Official" Stamp of approval and that will take time. In the meantime, I’ve got a pretty fast growing and exciting business that I have to run. So I’m really hoping CTS
takes on a life of its own…as I really need some sleep!