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RatingsIntel: Media Metrics Defined -- Rating, Average Audience and Universe Estimates

Nielsen Television Ratings

Nielsen’s TV Ratings are the industry currency by which television is bought and sold. Ratings are a standardized metric used to estimate how many people, and which people, watch television programming or networks. In its simplest terms, a rating point represents one percent of the defined population. So if your 30 minute program gets a ten household rating, that means on any given minute that your show aired, ten percent of all US television households were watching, which is actually pretty good, and you will probably get renewed.

Household ratings measure anyone in the household who is watching, but the more commonly used ratings measure people. Demographic categories further define ratings, with the most common breaks being gender (male / female / adults) and standardized age breaks. A18-49 refers to adults aged from 18 to 49. Ratings are expressed as percents.

Average Audience

To convert ratings to average audience, multiply the rating by the universe estimate (UE). Average audience is expressed in thousands.

10 HH rating x 114,200,000 households = 11,420 (000) average audience.

So your program had an average audience of over 11 million people.

Nielsen Universe Estimates (UE)

Nielsen Universe Estimates are population estimates set at the beginning of every broadcast year (September), based on census data and Nielsen's own information. For the 2013/2014 season, Nielsen’s new definition of a TV household will include households without traditional TV sets, encompassing all homes that have at least one operable TV or monitor that can deliver video through traditional means (antennae, cable set-top box or satellite), and/or with a broadband connection. The TV household UE for the 2013/2014 has been set at 115.6 million, up slightly from the 2012/2013 season.

2012/2013 Universe Estimates