Friday, February 13, 2015

TV Ratings Diaries Still Exist

Remember those things called Rating Service Diaries which you would receive in the mail and in which you would write down what you watched on TV for a week?  If you thought these were a thing of the past, think again.

Last Wednesday, February 4, I received one of these in my mail to be started the following morning. I'd received and ignored a phone call sometime earlier about getting one of these things, but I still got it in the mail. I just couldn't ignore the the thing, since they sent four crisp new $1 bills with the diary, and the instructions said to send the dairy back at the end of the week, no matter how much TV was watched during the dairy period.

The last time I'd received one of these things was around 1999. As such I kind of began wondering if they'd been rendered obsolete in the digital age to be replaced a digital equivalent of some sort.  Obviously this has not been the case so far.  But somehow I haven't gotten a ratings diary for about 16 years now. I know I got more than one of these during the 1990s, but not one during the first two decades of the new millennium.  Thus it took some time getting back into the idea of recording what I watched for a week into a diary.

The dairy period began on February 5.  For some reason, "morning" began at 5 AM each day, "afternoon" at noon. "evening" at 5PM, and "late night" was 11PM till 4AM, the following day. Thus watching Access Hollywood and Early Today during the 4AM hour on February 5 did not count. In fact, these two programs were basically all that I watched during the ratings diary period (which ended on February 12).  Since I've been working a temp job that is swing shift (3:30PM to midnight) on weeknights, I wasn't home most of the time to watch TV. All I watched on the weekends while I was home was the local news as well the evening news on NBC. Saturday I watched two episodes of Saturday Night Live,  the vintage episode at 10PM (a repeat from October 1990, with Patrick Swayze as host and Mariah Carey as musical guest), as well as the show in its regular time slot, which was actually a repeat from December (with a Christmas theme).  Sunday was more news, Jeopardy, and a repeat of Burn Notice.  I don't have cable and only get two channels (literally). As a result, it felt awkward doing a ratings dairy with little to watch and little time to do it. But having accepted the $4 sent with the diary, I just couldn't toss the thing. And they wanted know what you watch, no matter how much you watch.  If I got more channels and more time to watch, the whole experience would have been more challenging.  I was just surprised to see this process is still being done, even though it's been forever since the last time I've done it.

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