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Pay by Race: Racial Discrimination in the Nielsen TV Ratings

The Nielsen Company (also known as the Nielsen TV Ratings) is an industry leader in measuring how many people watch traditional TV. They have thousands of Nielsen TV Families who have boxes installed which monitor what they watch. They measure demographic data such as race of household, age of household and number of household members. However, the way that they recruit homes can be argued as racist.
For their local people meter markets such as Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and many others, the race or ethnicity of the "primary person who rents or owns" determines the household compensation over 2 years. If the household is Black or African American, they start out with a $150 check and a check every 6 months to total up to $525.00 over 2 years for alternate homes. If the home is Asian, the home would qualify for up to $900.00. However, if the home is Native American or Samoan, the home would only qualify for up to $425.00 over 2 years on their gift chart.
While, I am only giving examples with the alternate homes, the basic homes have slightly more compensation, but it also depends on race as well. The same criteria applies. Just basing it on race and the gift chart alone, for basics, it can be the difference between $800.00 for Black/African American homes over 2 years compared to $950.00 for Asian homes to just $700.00 for Native American or Samoan homes.
The difference between alternates and basics is the basic is the first home Nielsen selected for that recruitment cycle. If the first home does not sign up, the alternate is a home nearby in the area that signs up. Usually alternates start from the house to the left of the basic home, and then it goes down a list. The alternate homes are not really random in a purely random sense as it is predictable where alternate 1 is. Then alternate 2 is usually the home to the left of alternate 1 and so forth.
For both alternates and basics, the ethnicity with the highest compensation are Hispanic homes that speak more Spanish than English at home. These homes qualify for up to $2000.00+. However, if the home is Hispanic and speaks more English than Spanish at home, or only English at home, their pay drops to only $605.00 over 2 years on the gift chart for basics, and only $395.00 over 2 years for alternates. The next race-based tier starts at $700.00 over 2 years for basics, and $425 over 2 years for alternates, but one criteria is the home has to be non-Hispanic.
The frequency of checks is another thing Nielsen uses to differentiate by race. Hispanic Homes that speak more Spanish than English at home, and Asian homes get paid a monthly amount while Black/African American, Hispanic homes that speak mostly English or only English at home, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Samoan homes get paid a check every 6 months. This disparity of pay is concerning.
If you are approached by a Nielsen TV Ratings salesman or saleswoman, and if you get to see your gift chart, you will notice codes at the top right corner of the page. Here is the breakdown for alternate gift charts grouped from lowest to highest: 100A, 50A 150A, 150AM, 250AM and 350AM. For basics they run: 150B, 100B, 200B, 200BM, 300BM and 400BM. The initial number before the A or the B means their initial check is that much. If a gift chart ends in A or B, their checks come initially and every 6 months. However, if a gift chart ends in BM or AM, their gift charts come monthly after the initial check.
The reason why 100A is lower than 50A for the gift chart is because the checks at 6 month intervals are lower, and if you add everything up, it equals a lower amount over 2 years. This would also apply for 150B and 100B with 100B being a higher compensation than 150B for the gift charts. The 100A and 150B is for Hispanic homes that speak more English than Spanish at home, or only English at home. These homes are valued the least in the Nielsen TV Ratings local people meter gift chart compensation system. While just analyzing the gift charts, all races and ethnicites will get paid more than Hispanic homes that are classified as "English Dominant." English Dominant homes are Hispanic homes that speaks more English than Spanish at home, or only English at home.
The company also uses a thing called a "DCI, " and it stands for "discretionary cash incentive." DCI was at one time given in cash, but is now given on a prepaid Visa Gift Card. DCI is also race-based. For example, if a Native American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or Samoan home with 2 adults and no children (aged 35 years of age or older) sign up, they would not qualify for any DCI. Other races and ethnicities qualify for DCI in the sum of $50 per person, or $100 per person as a one time sign-up incentive given during install to adult(s) 18 or over. I have heard stories of homes get up to $700 in DCI just for signing up because of the home's race. These are extra incentives on top of the gift charts and are optional incentives that "Membership Representatives" may offer to get a home to sign up.
Not only does Nielsen practice racial discrimination by paying Nielsen Families by race, they also practice age discrimination by discouraging 55+ or senior citizen families from being recruited in several markets. If a home is 55+, they could be put on a many month "demo hold" meaning they can not be installed right away due to their age as homes of their demographic are not needed.
Alternate homes also have a thing called "TAR." A home has to match a TAR criteria to be eligible to sign up. Some weeks, I have seen "NON-ASIAN" or "NON-BLACK" or "NON-HISPANIC" pop up on TAR. This means to match that TAR, the home has to be NOT that race. If it shows up as "NON-ASIAN, " then it means find a home to sign up that is not Asian.
Due to the TAR criteria for eligible homes, I have even heard that there was a member of the Seattle market who would falsify her interview data just to get a home into the system as the home would be TAR ineligible otherwise. Because she was falsifying demographic data, that meant the demographic data sent to the Nielsen server was purposely inaccurate.
Race-based compensation may be a little complicated at first. However, Nielsen Membership Representatives who need help on determining household compensation can use a Nielsen created "incentive tool" on their iPhone while recruiting. After entering in some information like household's race and age, it will come back with which gift chart to use, and how much DCI (if any) can be offered. One might wonder, how many other companies (besides Nielsen) have a race-based compensation calculator?
Bottom line, Nielsen has been operating for a long time, and one would hope that in today's society, the Nielsen Company will stop paying Nielsen Families on the basis of race. Discriminatory practices based on race and/or age is plain WRONG!

  • Updated by Nielsen Exposed, Oct 07, 2019

    How to Stop Nielsen TV Ratings from Ringing Your Doorbell Again!

    If your home is the first home selected for the recruitment cycle (basic), you will be approached by a membership representative and they will come knocking or ringing.

    Even if you do not respond to their letter, they will be at your door. No matter, if you live in a gated community, they may follow the next car in, or try to convince the guard to let them in.

    What if the gatekeeper is heavily trained and won't let anyone in? Have you heard of Lexus Nexus? If the membership representative can't access your community or building, the manager may look up your address, and hopefully find your phone number through a paid service.

    If you do not want to be a Nielsen home for 2 years, and tell them you are not interested, that might not stop them. The manager may send the membership representative back, or send a different membership representative to come make an attempt.

    God forbid, what if one of your household members is terminally ill, you would think the Nielsen TV ratings people would leave your household alone and stop coming back? Unfortunately, they will still come back about every 6 months.

    What if you tell them you are moving soon? Will that stop them from coming back? No, they will come back to check if you moved. If a new household moved in by their next visit, they will try to sign up the new household who moved into your house. So if you are not moving, telling them you are moving wouldn't work. Even if they decide to move on and sign an alternate, they will come back about every 6 months to check if a new household moved in, or if you will sign up.

    Even after multiple refusals, and you think you are now rid of Nielsen, in about 6 month's time, don't be surprised if a Nielsen salesperson comes knocking again. They will keep rechecking your home about every 6 months, until your home is no longer selected. Your home (if you were the basic selected), will be selected for 2 years!

    What if you tell them that you have no TVs? Well, they put you as down as "zero TV" and come checking about every 6 months to ask if you have a TV now.

    How do you get them to stop coming? If your home is occupationally disqualified, then they will just pick a new home as the basic.

    1) A home can be occupationally disqualified if one of the household members work for a TV station in a role that is dependent on the TV ratings (eg. producer, director, camera person, etc.).

    2) Any household member that uses Nielsen data for their job is occupationally disqualified.

    So, I guess if you get a job in the TV industry, or buy their data, they will stop coming. You will just need to tell them that, and they will take your word for it. Of course, you shouldn't lie to the nice Nielsen people, but if you happen to work in media or buy their data, you are safe from being pestered if you just let them know your job title and company you work for.

    But what about the regular people who do not work in the TV industry or buy Nielsen data? You can call the 800 number on one of the door hanger(s) they leave you, and ask to speak to a manager. Politely, tell the manager to put your home on the "DO NOT CONTACT" list. Ask for the manager's name, and tell the person you are writing it down and will keep a record of it in case Nielsen disturbs your household again. Then keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully the Nielsen TV Ratings won't come back again.

  • Updated by Nielsen Exposed, Oct 07, 2019

    Nielsen TV Ratings markets have a contractual minimum of homes they promise the TV stations. TV stations are Nielsen's clients, and Nielsen needs to make their clients happy.

    A "BBO" home stands for broadband only. Unfortunately, BBO homes do not count toward the number of homes promised to the clients in the local people meter market. Only traditional (cable, satellite or antenna) homes count. One can assume if a home has traditional TV, then that increases the chances of clients getting better ratings than compared to a streaming only home that only watches Netflix and does not have the local channels.

    If a market manager has to have 800 homes in the sample, and there are homes that leave the sample every month, and their home count is below 800, then the market is in trouble. If alternate homes enter the sample and are BBO, then that does not add to the local market's home count. This is why you sometimes hear of management discourage Membership Representatives from signing up any more BBO homes.

    From management telling Membership Representative explicitly not to sign up BBO homes, to putting a 3 month demo hold on BBO installations, these practices are meant to suppress adding new BBO homes to the sample.

    If a streaming only home is signed, and Nielsen management puts a 3 month hold on the home from being installed, there is a bigger chance the home changes its mind during the long wait. However, if the home that was signed decided to get cable or satellite during their long hold, they would be allowed to be installed sooner as they would actually add to the sample.

    For membership representatives who do not want homes backing out, and the pressure from management to not sign up BBO alternates, often times homes that are BBO and want to sign up, don't have the opportunity to sign up as the recruiter will just find a cable or satellite home to sign up instead.

    And what about the payroll aspect of this? If management puts in policies that contribute to back-outs, and Membership Representatives bonus on the number of homes signed, wouldn't this cut into Membership Representatives' bonuses and pay? Think about all the work done to recruit these homes!

    One must wonder if the Nielsen Company has practices that discourage signing up BBO homes, then how accurate are Nielsen's estimates for the TV Ratings? Are the estimates of how many homes are out there that only stream compared to those that have traditional TV service even accurate? Also, why is it that BBO homes are not counted in the local sample? Wouldn't counting them in the local sample be more accurate?

Ni
Oct 06, 2019

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