The Reflexivity of Rigged Ratings: Nielsen in our Cultural Memory

Jennifer Hessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the rituals of small talk on public transport or at social events, when I share that my job involves conducting research on television audience analytics—or, the Nielsen ratings—I often receive anecdotes, particularly from older generations, about how their neighbors used to be a Nielsen Family or the time their favorite television show was cancelled due to low ratings. During these interactions, the central role that Nielsen occupies in our cultural memory of television becomes readily apparent; the mere phrase “the Nielsen ratings” seems to evoke a deep-rooted nostalgia for television’s past among those who lived it.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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