TV concepts and information

The 2014 Super Bowl was the most watched TV event in U.S. history. It had viewership of 111.5 million. In Seattle, 56.7 percent of all TVs were tuned to the Super Bowl (rating), and 92 percent of TVs turned on were tuned to the game (share).

The cost of a 30-second ad on TV for the 2014 Super Bowl was reported to be over $4 million.

An average of 108.4 million watched Super Bowl 2013, which puts it as #4 on the list of all-time-most-watched programs (#2 is Super Bowl 2012 (Giants and Patriots), with 111.3 million, and #3 is Super Bowl 2011 (Steelers and Packers), with 111 million).

The 2014 Super Bowl was the most tweeted event in history -- with 30 million tweets -- according to MDC Partners. The 2013 Super Bowl was the second most tweeted -- drawing more than 24 million tweets (and exceeding the 2012 Super Bowl record 13.7 million).

The 2012 Super Bowl had a rating of 47.8 for the game in which the Giants beat the Patriots.

The 2011 Super Bowl game had an estimated 111 million viewers, according to the Associated Press, citing Nielsen Co. figures.

The 2010 Super Bowl had a viewership of 106.5 million people, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The record before 2010 stood for 27 years -- 106 million watched the fianle of "MASH" in 1983. (In terms of percentage of the U.S. population, the most-watched TV event of all time was the 1983 final episode of "M*A*S*H" with 60% of the 83.3 million U.S. homes. By contrast, the 2010 Superbowl was watched by 45% of the 115 million U.S. homes.)

A 30-second advertising spot in the 2013 Super Bowl cost between $3.7 and $3.8 million.

A 30-second spot in the 2012 Super Bowl sold for $3.5 million.

A 30-second advertising spot in the 2011 Super Bowl cost $3 million -- and in the 2010 between $2.7 million and $3 million.

The cost of a 30-second commercial for the Feb. 24, 2013, Academy Awards telecast was about $1.7 million, according to

TV facts:

According tweo Nielsen (January 2011, Seattle Times), Americans in 2010 watched more TV than ever -- an average of 34 hours per person per week.

CBS was the #1 network for 51 of 52 weeks. Among viewers age 18 to 49, Fox ranked first. Eight of the top 10 highest-rating programs were football games (the other two were Academy Awards and "Undercover Boss" premiere).

All the cable news channels posted declines from 2009 -- Fox remained the most popular (it had beat CNN for the first time in 2009 among 25-to-54-year-olds). USA remained the most popular cable network during prime time.

Nielsen (according to Norman Herr at CSU, Northridge) says the average American watches more than 4 hours of television each day -- and that in the life of a 65-year-old person, she or he will have spent 9 years watching TV.

Herr (and TV Free America) says an average child will have seen 8,000 murders on TV and 200,000 by age 18. The child sees 20,000 30-second TV commercials each year (and sees 2 million by age 65).

For more statistics, see The Sourcebook for Teaching Science

Regarding TV and news data, see: The State of the News Media: An Annual Report on American Journalism -- 2013 (The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

According to the Benton Foundation, as on March 2011, the FCC listed the following:
1,774 full power TV stations: 1,022 UHF commercial, 360 VHF commercial, 285 UHF educational, and 107 VHF educational.

10,595 translators and booster stations.

2,172 low power TV stations.
[The U.S. has a total of 30,473 broadcasting stations (TV, radio, etc.), according to Benton Foundation.]

An average of more than 22.5 million people tune to NBC, ABC and CBS each evening in 2011, five times the number of people watching at any given moment in prime time the three cable news channels, according to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism.
For more statistics, including digital and cable, see The State of the News Media above.

Research from around the turn of the century found that we watch 27,000 hours of TV by the time we graduate from high school (we spend only 18,000 hours in the classroom). There are about 116 million HUTs (homes using TV) in the US. 99% have color TV sets.

On average, there are over 2.25 sets per home -- 75% have more than one set; 66% have 3 sets and over 15% have 4 or more sets. Over 85% have a TV set in the bedroom. Over 2/3 of us use the remote to watch two or more programs at once.

5 ways TV networks are trying to increase viewers (and, thus advertising dollars):

1. New shows all year round --ex. "American Idol," January; "The Closer" at different times

2. Limited-run series -- ex. "The Sopranos"

3. Abrupt schedule shifts -- ex. "Apprentice" switched away from slot opposite "American Idol"

4. Changing reruns -- no second reruns; fewer dramatic and narratve reruns; comedies do better

5. Super-sized programs -- Add a few extra minutes of popular show ("Friends") so more advertisements at higher rate & prevent VCR recording accurately because of non-standard ending/beginning time

Cable: 19448 --First cable systems in Pennsylvania and Oregon in 1948 1972 -- FCC allows urban cable 1975 -- HBO 1979-84 -- franchise wars in big cities 1994.

Cable's top corporations -- by subscribers (from National Cable & Telecommunications Association)

1. Comcast (22.7 million)
2. DirecTV (19.4 million)
3. Dish Network Corp. (14.2 million)
4. Time Warner Cable, Inc. (12.4 million)

Cable's Top Networks by revenue (in billions of dollars -- according to the 2008 Advertising Age Annual):

1. Time Warner ($6.97)
2. Walt Disney Co. ($6.75)
3. Viacom ($5.51)
4. News Corp. ($3.84)
5. NBC Universal ($2.91) -- now owned by Comcast

As of the end of 2009, networks and cable were battling because of decreased advertising, thus causing some analysts to believe that in the not-to-distant future, the free-TV broadcast model may cease to exist. See this related late-2009 Seattle Times story:

"Cable, Web imperil broadcast TV model" by Andrew Vanacore, The Associated Press

3 Types of TV Programming Centered Primarily on Greed:

1. Sports (NBC $750 million for 4 years of NBA)

2. Commercials as programs (GI Joe, Transformers, Power Rangers, Abflex)

3. Shopping Network channels --QVC, etc.

Fox runs unfair video
A May 2012 New York Times/Associated Press article about an attack video on President Obama by Fox

(These overlap with textbook and videos)

Rating -- the percentage of all homes with televisions, whether in use or not. One rating point represents about 994,000 homes

Share -- the ratings service-provided estimated percentage of sets on tuned to a particular program relative to other programs at that time

Sweeps -- the 4 times a year the ratings services still tend to gather their most important ratings

DBS -- direct broadcast satellite cable-like service using satellites and satellite dishes and descramblers (ex. DirecTV)

HDTV -- high definition TV that scans 1,125 lines instead of 525 and uses digital transmission to achieve sharper picture -- required in 2009 (older TV sets will need an adapter box to receive digital signals)

Surfing (or grazing) -- switching from channel to channel with the remote control

Syndicators -- program services that sell older network series to independent stations

First-run syndication -- a program bypasses the network and is sold directly to independent stations (Star Trek: the next generation)

Passive People Meters -- TV metering devise with camera-like equipment and computer attached to top of TV set in homes and sometimes using Pattern Recognition technology to record viewing and viewer information

Nielsen ratings -- An estimated 115.9 million TV households exist (as of 2010) in the U.S. One national ratings point represents one percent of the total HUTs (households using TV). Two metering devices are placed in a random sample of homes by the Nielsen Company. One measures what channel the TV is receiving at the time, and People Meters gather information about who is watching. More sophisticated metering systems being developed and tested. For more information, see:
The Nielsen Company

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Pay per view -- movies, concerts, sports or other programming delivered to individual home TVs for a special fee

LPTV -- low power TV designed to deliver local programming to areas less than 15 miles in diameter -- now over 2,100 such stations

Cult of the Personality -- tendency to glorify person in some other news like presentation (ex. Barbara Walters interview)

VNR -- Video News release -- prepared by a public relations company and sent to stations by satellite to be used on the news (ex., pharmacy company provides videotapes on new drugs, which, of course, features their drugs and lots of pictures of their facilities and logo)

Infomercials -- commercials that are programming (given to stations free and allowed to some advertising times if they air it with built-in ads)

Hype -- using TV news programs to promote their entertainment shows

Plugola -- talk shows that mention products (ex., guest mentioning new book or type of diet being used, etc.)

Product plugs -- programs that mention brands, products or services (ex. game show mentioning airlines providing thte travel; sports program mentioning blimp showing aerial shots, etc.)

Zapping -- switching channels to avoid ads (or fast forwarding through commercials on taped shows)

News briefs -- device created by networks (and copied by local stations) that allows the airing of 10-second ads

Hypoing -- running unusual contests or programs during the sweeps period -- critics say it is tampering with the Nielsen sample and cheats advertisers and stations

Target rating points -- refers to the audience promised to be delivered to advertisers by buyers of TV time (usually in a local market)

Pattern Recognition System -- a passive ratings technology that uses a video camera system that stores video iconfaces in a computer data base and compares them to faces in the room it is scanning [Big Brother-like?]

Single Source Tracking -- developed by ScanAmerica, it combines audience viewing as measured by people meters with product purchasing as recorded by a universal product code scanner after the panel member brings the product home

Least Objectionable Programming -- a phrase referring to the tendency among those developing TV shows to avoid risk or controversy

Spin room -- a place near political debates and other news events where special interests engage media in an effort to gain a favorable portrayal in the media presentation of the debate or event

Ambush media or Place-Based TV -- TV with special programming and ads put in locations where the audience is captive (such as doctor offices or schools or airports)

Radio ID Device -- slender glass implants with computer chips are injected under the skin so that movement and behaviors can be monitored electronically -- could be placed in magazine or book spines [or credit cards -- which are known as SMART CARDS but do not confuse with the ratings system mentioned above], etc.

Streaming television -- just a few examples (some free, some not):

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Updated 2014