So, we were recently selected to be a Nielsen family for a week. I don't know how the selected us, but N. received a phone call asking him if we'd be willing to record our TV viewing for a week. Nielsen said we'd even get paid $30. We're both kind of suckers for surveys and so N. agreed to do it. A couple of weeks later a envelope showed up containing a paper diary, instructions, and $30 in cash. We were both surprised when the $10 and $20 bills fluttered out of the envelope and onto the table. It just seemed odd--I thought they would send a check or send us the money after they received the journal. Nielsen: proud supporters of the honor system!
I sadly neglected to scan or take photos of the TV diary before we had to send it back. But this guy has scans of the diary if you're interested. It was all very retro feeling. You're supposed to write down the channel or call letters of the station you're watching, the name of the program, and which members of the household are watching/listening to the show. The diary tracks things in by 15-minute increments. If you're watching something that you recorded on a DVR, then you also have to write down when it originally aired. Yeah, it was kind of a pain.
Nielsen is really on the ball, though. The day we received the diary they called to see if we had any questions and then they called again to reminder us to mail the diary back on time. I think that Nielsen is probably pretty successful with getting the diaries returned due to the reminder phone calls and the guilt factor of having been paid in advance.
We only tracked the shows we watched for a week but writing everything down definitely got old after a few days. But the power was intoxicating! This was our chance to strike a blow for our pet shows that get low ratings. (You can thank me later, 30 Rock.) Other times, it was a little embarrassing to have to write down what I was watching (I'm looking at you, back-to-back episodes of The Dog Whisperer!)