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Hate what's on TV? Blame me
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
Right now, Iím watching Single White Female on DVD. Not so earth-shattering, except I have to write it down, because Iíve been selected as a Nielsen household. Yes, my viewing habits are apparently important enough for this company to pay me $7 cash to fill out some papers.
Iím hella impressed with the customer service so far. When they sent out the preliminary survey, they sent two dollars cash. They called when I sent the initial survey back. I missed the call, so I called back and told them my current viewing situation. While I love filling out surveys and telling people what I think, I told them I had analog television sets, and burned through two of those digital converter boxes, and had no interest in buying another one. Getting a digital television set would be nice, but considering Iíve not seen the dentist and eye doctor in a few years and Iím due for my yearly boob-smashing, spending money on TV when I could be taking care of myself seems stupid and irrational (but totally American.) Iíll get a newer television one of these days, but YouTube seems much more entertaining. Plus, I have a good collection of DVDs and VHS tapes, so if I need to watch something, or just want background noise, I pop one in.
Thing is, this didnít faze the Nielsen people at all. They said that was fine. I got yet another call saying my survey books would be arriving in the mail soon, and they did, along with five crisp one dollar bills. Then, another call explaining how to fill them out (itís pretty easy.)
The first couple days, I didnít have the television on. Thursday and Friday were both busy. Tonight itís Saturday, and I thought about watching Orphan, but when I opened the DVD tray, Single White Female was already in there. And just like that, I thought Iíd watch Single White Female. I guess, in a split second, I didnít want to watch a movie about a creepy kid being mean to her new brother and sister, and mom. I guess Iíd rather watch a creepy adult stealing the identity of her roommate.
Out of laziness, I usually throw something in the player, and play it over and over. Iím usually online anyway, and Iíve seen almost everything I have several times. I thought about watching some way-out things, or movies that were made before I was even born.
Apparently, it doesnít matter to Nielsen. My viewing habits will determine the broadcasting needs of my local community, or something like that. Which makes me want all the more to watch The Best of Steve Allen that my dad taped off the Disney Channel back in the 1990s, and the 1984 Grand National Steeplechase, won by Hallo Dandy. I just got up off the couch to look for that tape, and it wasnít in the case. I have a sneaking suspicion that the boy my mom babysat for might have used that tape to record ďSupermarket SweepĒ and ďBumper StumpersĒ from the Game Show Network. If I ever found that tape and certain others, Iím sure Nielsen might find it quite interesting.
I also told Nielsen the only time I watched commercial television was when I was out in public, like at the gym or at a bar/restaurant that had a set. I explained that would probably give them a better sense of my television viewing, but they only gave me one diary for each working set in the house. If I watch television out in public, it doesnít count.
I wish I could record everything I watch in the diary. I do honestly spend a lot of time on YouTube, and lately, for some reason I canít explain, Iíve been watching episodes of ďHere Comes Honey Boo Boo.Ē Iíve mentioned this show before, in the September 20, 2012 issue of the Fort Wayne Reader, when People magazine did an article on the Thompson family. I admitted getting a bit ill when reading the People article in the grocery store. Before that, I was watching episodes of ďTo Catch a Predator,Ē with the hilariously disturbing chat transcripts (Predator: send me yr pantiesóBait: Rilly? LOL.)
Iíve not really changed my mind about ďHere Comes Honey Boo Boo.Ē I know itís been cancelled, but I can understand now why it was a hit. Some of it was Sugar Bearís hilarious observations while camping ("The only snake June needs to worry about is a trouser snake") and his touching attempts at trying to be romantic with June ("I got a chubby for my chubby") which sometimes failed. The show was a train wreck with unequal parts of disgusting and ďawwww.Ē June didnít know crap about nutrition, but her attempts to make memories with her children, especially before Anna got married and moved to Alabama (highlighted in the last episode ďAnnabamaĒ) were quite honest.
But those revelations came to me via YouTube, not television. My viewing habits will probably influence what kinds of old movies the local stations will consider running late at night, or on Saturday afternoons. Still, Iím amazed at Nielsenís customer service skills. They really DO give a damn about peopleís viewing habits, if they can send out $7 cash, with no guarantee that I will fill out the diaries correctly or even send them back. Their accentless phone operators make me think this is a U.S. based operation, which is even more inspiring. But then it hit me. Of COURSE they are going to practically hold my hand throughout the process. Networks want to know whoís watching what, so they can figure out how much to charge for a Coca-Cola commercial during The Big Bang Theory. Thatís important stuff.
If only our credit card companies, cable services, software manufacturers, insurance companies, doctors and hospitals put as much effort into customer service as Nielsen did, the world would be a better place. Astonishingly better. Especially if they were courteous and called you when they sent out forms to make sure you understood how to fill them out. And if they sent you $7 cash. Hey, every little bit helps.