20 Jan


All week, many many people were asking if they could impact ratings for the inauguration by not watching. The short answer is sorry,  but no.

Anti-Trump Facebook friends began circulating a call-to-action to boycott the inauguration on TV by turning to another channel today (January 20). They thought they had found an effective way to force the TV ratings for the inauguration to plummet. This would have been a huge blow to Donald Trump’s fragile ego. He is obsessed with ratings.

In theory, it’s a great idea but it wouldn’t have worked unless you are a member of the Neilsen family. Neilsen pretty much has a monopoly on ratings gathering. The company has been around since the 1950s. But with the debut of DVRs and later, Internet streaming, they have re-invented themselves and their information-gathering techniques many times. This from Neilsen via  

“…. Nielsen’s U.S. TV families represent a cross-section of representative homes throughout the country. We measure viewing using our national and local people meters…and we have TV set meters in many local markets. We collect more than two million paper diaries from audiences across the country each year during “sweeps” — specific periods during the months of February, May, July and November. To measure video content viewed on mobile devices, we have expanded our panels to incorporate census-style data from third parties in order to capture the breadth and depth of consumer usage.”

Short story: Neilsen is watching you watch, but it’s a relatively small sampling. Still, it is the respected measuring device of TV-land. In fact it is probably the only such operation. Arbitron used to be in the game but Neilsen inched them out long ago. Personally, I suspect any TV coming off the assembly line in the past two years has been equipped with a non-disclosed chip that is the building block for future shock. It’s the “We see everything you see” mentality “and you have no clue.”

Bill Scher in New Republic, January 11, 2017 reminds us that the protests, marches, petitions, phone calls are “..fine ways to participate in our democracy” but adds there is one other tactic that is guaranteed to rattle Donald Trump the most with the least amount of effort: Don’t watch him. “

The problem is unless you have a Neilsen box or turn in a Neilsen diary, you weren’t counted. Just do a straw poll to see who watched or did not. Start with me. And my family. Just on general principle and private boycott, we watched ESPN.


BTW, a good read on why Neilsen ratings really don’t mean much anyway, click on

Appreciate your subscriptions and comments. Hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.



Leave a Reply