The New York Times reported that PBS, as of today, will start receiving full-time television ratings from the Nielsen Company (they previously received monthly reports). The Times says PBS (Public Broadcasting System) has made the move in order to offer shorter sponsorship periods and provide more viewer data to those sponsors.
PBS started looking at ratings more closely with the broadcast of the newest Ken Burns documentary called “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” (also available on Blu-ray Disc) which is a spectacular survey of some of America’s most beautiful and treasured parks. The six-episode documentary was presented in standard and high-definition from Sept. through Oct. ’09 and received 5.5 million viewers per episode.
But PBS won’t be looking at every minute of viewership. Because of member stations showing programs at various times throughout the week, PBS will receive weekly reports from Nielsen and will not request overnight ratings.
Largely funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS offers free HD programming over-the-air with shows such as “Nova,” “Frontline,” “Antiques Roadshow,” and “Masterpiece,” as well as special travel, drama, kids, history and arts programming.
PBS is a non-profit organization which replaced the National Educational Television (NET) in 1970. Since then it has grown to 356 member stations throughout the U.S., and depending on the broadcaster can be seen in 480i (SD), 720p (HD) or 1080i(HD).