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Do You Know Who Is Carrying A Meter?

July 14, 2020

In June, Nielsen released valuable information on the characteristics of its meter keepers. This goes well beyond age, race, and geography, which we at Research Director, Inc. routinely track.

These are household questions that are asked when the meter is placed in the household. Again, none of these are individual questions, but reflect the entire household.

Some of the other characteristic details include:

  • Home Ownership
  • Household Income
  • Type of Internet Access
  • Number of Radios in the Household
  • Number of Televisions in the Household
  • Source of Television Viewership
  • Video Gaming and Streaming Capabilities
  • Presence of Computer/Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone
  • Access to Video Streaming Services
  • Use of Internet Radio Services
  • Use of Podcasts
  • Use of Smart Speakers
  • Number and Age of Automobiles
  • Employment Status/Occupation
  • Education
  • Language Spoken in the Household
  • Proficiency with English

While this data is not weighted and does not perfectly match the population, we believe it is used so Nielsen can have a representative panel. This is especially key because of the sample size in most markets.


By understanding who is carrying a meter, it can help you understand your station’s ratings position, as meter keepers determine your ratings fate. While the recently released Nielsen data is for the entire market, how your station is categorized in some of these characteristics can be discovered in Tapscan or the PPM Analysis Tool.

Understanding the characteristics of those households can help you better understand Nielsen’s final product.


It is our opinion that this data should NOT be used for programming decisions. Never program to the meter keepers as the panel turnover makes this a dangerous task.

However, it may impact some marketing strategies. How you spend your few marketing resources could be swayed by the characteristics of the overall panel and those panelists who cume your station. For example, it could be valuable to examine the income data. It is a well-accepted belief that, when looking at prizes, money is a great motivator for low-income listeners, while events are a better motivator for high-income listeners.

Finally, by looking at this market data, you can see how the number of radios in the household compares to streaming outlets. This could impact not only how you promote your stream, but also how you allocate resources to that outlet.

We at Research Director, Inc. commend Nielsen on the transparency of this data. We see this as valuable information in understanding the ratings that drive our industry.

If you have questions about this report or how to use it to your station’s benefit, please reach out to us here.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner