The watchers are being watched: Television stations gear up for February sweeps - The Solutions

February 12, 2001

Survivor II’s national rating tells us 17.6% of 102.2 million household watched the program, or .176 × 102,200,000, or 17,987,200 households. This was only 25% of the households actually watching television. Therefore there were 17,987,200 × 4, or 71,948,800 households watching t.v. at 8:00 Thursday night.

From the national rating .405 × 102,200,000 or 41,391,000 households saw the commercials. Dividing the \$2,300,000 equally among the 41,391,000 households comes out to about \$0.06 cents per household. If there are about 130,000,000 people who watched the Super Bowl then again divide that by 41,391,000 households and get that they were estimating about three people per household.

Be Careful! This may seem like a simple problem, but there really is not enough information to answer the problem. For example, if both commercials are run at 5:30 Wednesday evening when 40 million people are watching t.v., then 15.6 million will see Fred’s commercial and 17.2 million will see Abby’s. But if Fred’s commercial runs at 6:00pm Thursday when 50 million people are watching t.v. and Abby runs hers at 4:30am Thursday when only 2 million people are watching t.v., then Fred’s commercial is seen by .39 × 50,000,000 or 19.5 million people, while Abby’s commercial is seen by .43 × 2,000,000 or 860,000 people. Therefore, a program’s audience share alone is not the best statistic to consider when comparing two programs.

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