Recently the Baltimore Sun put out a quick blurb about how The Wire’s ratings weren’t doing well. They follow it up with comparisons to The Sopranos, which went on a lot longer than The Wire, and was also much more dramatized and fluffed than The Wire. I don’t see the reason everyone needs to compare show A or show B to The Sopranos. I didn’t like the show, I thought it was too fake and was a good chance to milk the mafioso stereotype for some money. The Wire on the other hand is more realistic in a lot of ways than The Sopranos and hits home a lot more (for me at least.) It talks about educational failings, street crime, drugs, extortion, murder, and what some people will go through to put make ends meet.
Every time I turn around and look at some article about ratings it always comes down to Nielsen this or Nielsen that. As far as I’m concerned, the Nielsen ratings need to go. There’s too many people watching TV on their own schedule, not when the broadcasting stations want them too. It’s no longer John and Jane Doe sitting around with little Timmy, Susy, and Billy on Sunday night to see what funny things Dick Clark is going to say next. Much like other parts of our media industry, TV needs to start adapting and bending to the consumers schedule, or they’ll suffer much like the music and movie industry.
With the tools that our generation has we’re realizing that more and more things can be done at our own pace and our own schedule. I’ve got Tivo and an iPod. I don’t need to listen to a radio show at 9pm anymore, I can usually find it as a podcast to listen to later. I can Tivo The Wire at 9pm on a Sunday and watch it the next day or whenever I have time. With Comcast I could download shows from their On Demand service. Some broadcasters actually give you the opportunity to watch the shows directly on their website.
Regardless, people should stop throwing around Nielsen like it’s the law of the land. When you have an antiquated rating system that can’t account for the generation that uses more outlets for information than all other generations combined you need to evaluate a show for more than just who’s watching it and start looking at why people are watching it.