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Nielsen Media Research (NMR) is an American firm that measures media audiences, including television, radio, theatre films (via the AMC Theatres MAP program) and newspapers. NMR, headquartered in New York City, is best known for the Nielsen ratings, an audience measurement system of television viewership that for years has been the deciding factor in canceling or renewing television shows by television networks. As of May 2012, it is part of Nielsen Holdings.
Nielsen Media Research, once one of the largest media research companies in the world, began as a division of ACNielsen, a marketing research firm. In 1996, Nielsen Media Research was split off into an independent company and in 1999, was purchased by the Dutch conglomerate VNU. In 2001, VNU also purchased ACNielsen, thereby bringing both companies under the same corporate umbrella. VNU was reorganized and renamed the Nielsen Company in 2007.
The Nielsen TV Ratings have been produced in the USA since the 1950s and statistically measure which programs are watched by different segments of the population. The most well-known portion is the "diary". During the 4 sweeps months of February, May, July and November, Nielsen interviewers in Oldsmar, Florida and Radcliff, Kentucky ask homes to participate in filling out a diary of the programs watched in their home for a one week period.
The Nielsen sample included roughly 1,700 audimeter homes and rotating board of nearly 850 diary respondents, by the early 1980s. Nielsen launched its Nielsen Homevideo Index (NHI) in 1980 to measure cable, pay cable, and VCRs, and the NHI began offering daily cable ratings in 1982. Nielsen’s continued to advance with steady changes into the mid 2000s (decade). Along with changing their counting methods, Nielsen also started emphasizing their sample in 2003 in reaction to census shifts and requests from some industry sectors. Nielsen’s automated Local People Meter (LPM) technology was introduced in New York and Los Angeles. The LPM improved the method of measurement from active and diary-based to passive and meter-monitored. More importantly, the LPM provides accurate measurements to particular local markets, verse a nation wide sample from the People meter. While diary-based surveys concentrated on quarterly “sweeps” periods, the industry has been pushed towards year-round measurement, due to the automated LPM system.
Recently, Nielsen announced the launch of its A2M2 project that would measure television viewing in and out of the home.
Nielsen Media Research is a sister company to Nielsen NetRatings, which measures Internet and digital media audiences through a telephone and internet survey, and Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which measures Consumer-Generated Media.
Nielsen also conducts market research for the film industry through National Research Group (NRG).
The company maintains an office in Oldsmar, Florida. Most of the employees of Nielsen Media Research work in Oldsmar, and the company's media measurement work originates from the office. The Associated Press said that the Oldsmar building, with a cost figure of $80 million, was "its so-called nerve center."
Nielsen went in for an IPO (NYSE: NLSN) in January 2011 and was the largest public offer in the United States in the previous four years. Being the largest IPO for a firm backed by private equity at $1.64 billion, the IPO was well received and closely watched by all big banks and private equity boutiques On March 1, 2011 they announced the appointment of Liz Zale as Senior Vice President for Investor Relations. Liz Zale was previously Vice President for Investor Relations at Moody's Corporation (NYSE: MCO).