The Platinum Age of Television: Nielsen Ratings Vs. Twitter

The Platinum Age of Television: Nielsen Ratings Vs. Twitter

LaughingMan: So, who’s lamenting the ending
of their favorite television shows? CineMax: *Sigh* Yeah, breaking bad is over.
So is Dexter. Kenny: Yeah, I’m sad Dexter is dead. LaughingMan: See, I never remember television
shows ever getting this kind of mass following. Sure, a lot of old television shows had fans,
but they never had fans like this. People who follow television shows on social media.
There’s even an April 2013 issue Wired Magazine that states that “We’re currently living in
the Platinum Age of Television” and that “Television has never been better.” B-Mask: Hmm. Now I know we discussed this
before, but I find it really interesting when people say that we live in a certain age,
like platinum or golden. Because it’s so subjective as a value. Kenny: Yeah. I mean, people will say that
shows like Leave It to Beaver, The Honeeymooners, The Andy Griffith Show were the golden age
of television and that we’ll never get any better. But based on whose perspective? Based
against what exactly? LaughingMan: Well, they’re actually just gauging
these things not by, you know, a value. They’re gauging them by an anniversary. You know,
the golden anniversary, the silver anniversary, the platinum anniversary. CineMax: But of course, what’s interesting
is that, unlike history, which always follows a consecutive order of sorts… You know,
the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. So it always kinda progresses forward. B-Mask: Yes. CineMax: However, when we discuss mediums
such as movies, video games, or hell even comic books — it’s the other way around.
You know, like: “Hey! Here’s the golden age of comic books.” Okay, what’s so special about
the golden age of comic books? “Ummm. Well, you know, Superman lifted a car and threw
it at someone! Oh, and Wonder Woman made a timely passing racist remark! LaughingMan: LOL. B-Mask: I’d like to just quickly add: I don’t
know if I’ve said this before on the show, but I still stand by what was once said by
a friend of Jeremy Clarksons. He said that there never was a golden age of television.
What happened was, was that we had all this stuff that was made back in the day, and you
can count, like, ten good things in a decade. Whereas now what’s happened is, because we
are able to create more, we are able to produce more good content than we’ve ever had before.
However, as a result, there’s a fuck of a lot more dross because we’re making as much
bad as we are good. Kenny: Yeah. B-Mask: So it sorta equals out that way. LaughingMan: Here’s the thing. You guys are
mentioning that… You guys are using the show’s quality as the decisive force of the
platinum age of television. And while I do agree that certain shows are getting better
and worse shows are obviously getting even worse. Honey Boo Boo… UGH. B-Mask: LOL. LaughingMan: But the point of the Wired Magazine
article is to look at why these shows are taking off, what’s driving this fanaticism.
What helped the Walking Dead get 12 million viewers in its mid-season finale? They’re
really exploring the social and technological aspects of what’s going on. B-Mask: Yeah, well here’s the thing. While
we can make the argument for the fact that there’s a massive following for great shows
such as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones; the problem is, you can also say the same thing
for the Big Bang Theory… And that’s when you have to go: “Ah, now wait a minute. That’s
a bit…” Kenny: Yeah. *Sigh* B-Mask: If we’re really looking at it objectively,
we could make the argument for the fact that social media — you know, Facebook, Twitter,
etc. — has a lot in building an audience for ANY show, regardless of its quality. LaughingMan: Exactly! Kenny: Well, I mean it’s just like — with
an example from the gaming industry — how, you know, you have The Last Of Us being so
well received, but then you also have Call of Duty so well received. So it really is
a relative point of discussion here. Like, how do these things get so many fans. You
know, on the critical and general public side of things. B-Mask: Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to say
it’s because they’re not good shows. Because, you know, it’s completely subjective what
you enjoy and what you don’t. And there are some things which I believe you can say with
a certain degree of nuance: “Yes. This is a much better show than we’ve had before.”
But it’s really tough. Because you’re trying to equate success with quality, and that doesn’t
always add up. Because again, like I’ve said, there are so many bad shows out there. LaughingMan: Right. It’s my belief that that
if FireFly was released in this day and age it would not have gotten canceled. Because
according to Wired Magazine and the research they’ve done — that we’ve boggarted. *Laughs* B-Mask: LOL. LaughingMan: They bassically make a lot of
points about how Fox was always going off the Nielsen Ratings system. Which they found
out is highly innacurate. Especially in this day and age when the Nielsen Ratings don’t
even count Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV… CineMax: Or hell, even DVR recordings. LaughingMan: Exactly! DVR recording, which
can boost a show’s popularity by 120%. Kenny: And for those of you at home, really
quickly, who don’t know what the Nielsen Ratings system is. The Niesel Ratings basically use
a system called ‘statistic sampling’ to rate the shows. So they create a sample audience
and count how many in that audience view each program. So, essentially what they do is… LaughingMan: They pull stats out of their
ass! Kenny: Yeah, that’s what they do. They pull
statistics. Like, because they don’t get the full sample of people. Instead, they get a
small sample of people that may actually be innacurate as to how many people are actually
watching the show. B-Mask: Tell me about. They’re talking about
5,000 people, and how big is America? LaughingMan: Exactly. B-Mask: But this is really how the movie industry
uses that in particular to gauge what movies get made and what movies don’t get made. I
remember telling you guys about how, when one of the heads of Aardman Animation came
to talk to us, he told us about how, when DreamWorks owned them, they’d put them in
a mall in Texas and have families come in and rate their films. And, the guy’s own words:
“It’s absolute bullshit.” LaughingMan: Well yeah. It’s Texas! Everyone: LOL. LaughingMan: I’m joking, I’m joking. But in
kind of goes to illustrate that different cultures will have different tastes. CineMax: This is the same reason why focus
groups don’t really work. LaughingMan: Right. Kenny: You know, that also brings up a point.
You mentioned FireFly earlier. That could also apply to different time periods having
different tastes. Like, right now we’re in a nerd revolution, where if FireFly aired
today, it might not have gotten cancelled so quickly. It would’ve actually probably
caught fire. B-Mask: Perhaps, but I wonder if it’s becuase
it’s Joss Wheadon after The Avengers. You know, after that movie happened, he can pretty
much do anything he wanted to, and then did. LaughingMan: I really don’t think that that’s
necessarily the point. Because FireFly had quite a following, a cult following. B-Mask: Don’t forget, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
went on for ages, and that came out before… LaughingMan: Yeah, so Joss Whedon had quite
a… CineMax: A following. The problem is, the
network was no able to adequately gauge said following. LaughingMan: Yes! That’s what I was trying
to put in edgewise! Was the fact that they can’t gauge an accurate following from the
Nielsen System. And what they’re doing these days is using Twitter. As much as I fucking
hate Twitter, Twitter is one of the driving forces in getting an accurate assesment of
the viewership. CineMax: #CheshireCatStudios Everyone: LOL. LaughingMan: But, um. Twitter’s BlueFin Labs
in an analytics company that combs all the hashtags and the trending content and presents
that date to the networks. So, networks have a vastly more accurate assesment of the viewership.
And, you know, you can even say they kind of tell how many people are watching a show
in lieu of piracy. Because, you know, if 2 million people are
twittering about the latest episode of Game of Thrones and only 1 million watched the
network broadcast, then there’s obviously a million people who are either echoing what
someone else is saying or they’ve watched it online. Kenny: Yeah, so I think the margin of error
is a lot smaller with the Twitter system. B-Mask: The Big Brother is watching you, afterall. LaughingMan: It’s Big Brother + Advertisers.
If you’re a network company, this is information you’d want. You would want to know if Arrested
Development is worth spending 3 million an episode on. CineMax: Right, so basically be aware of what
you post on Facebook, kids. LaughingMan: And Twitter! B-Mask: Yeah, because someone is listening
and they’re using it to put out more shit. No, it’s insane. Kenny: Yes, even if you complain about, like,
Disney’s Frozen… CineMax: Disney will know! B-Mask: LOL. Kenny: Disney will know! And just based on
your rants, Will, they’ll come up with a sequel to Frozen! LaughingMan: Kenny, don’t use his real name!
Don’t use his real name! B-Mask: LOL. LaughingMan: We’ve already determined that
William is in England, his name is William, and this means that Disney’s already narrowed
him down for a job he’ll never get. They’ll be, like, “William’s on our blacklist.” Kenny: OH NOOOO. CineMax: Mickey Mouse and a bunch of 1930’s
factory workers are going to show up on his doorstep with baseball bats. LaughingMan: LOL. B-Mask: No, no, guys. You remember Iron Man
3 when Tony Stark gives the Mandarin his home address? LaughingMan: LOL. Apache helicopters, with
big Disney ears. *Laughs* Kenny: Helicopters will just be like: “You’re
going to die, ha ha!” Shoot the missle. LaughingMan: LOL.


  1. I think the main difference which sets this generation of television apart is the accessibility of content within the medium. We are now living in an age where the content is able to be viewed no matter where you are in the world. Therefore social media plays an inate role in how we experience television shows and how we share those experiences with others. We are no longer content to simply enjoy our favourite shows by ourselves and so people are turning to social media to invite the rest of the world to their couch. It is because of this that television content is only going to become more popular as more and more people attempt to become a part of these new trends in order to remain connected. Btw excellent video as usual 🙂

  2. While LaughingMan, Kenny, CineMax, and B-Mask lament the endings of a few of their favorite television shows (Dexter, Breaking Bad) they debate how much validity this so-called “Platinum Age of Television” has behind it.

  3. Yes The greatest Video podcast is back I missed this so much. Anyway your topic about how twitter and facebook are changing the landscape of TV is a good one I also want to add in that with more streaming  services  like Netflixs, Hulu, Amazon Plus, and with the WWE network coming soon do think TV networks are pretty much done for

  4. You guys are so incredibly intelligent and well-cultured in your wording.

    What a group of scholars, consider me jealous.

  5. Sorry to break it to you guys, but if Firefly came out today it would be recognized as bad. I finally got around to watching it a few years ago after being told how good it was for so long and having it placed, by people, with all the other good series out there… Watched it… I was extremely disappointed. 

    The argument that people use to justify how bad it is is always that Whedon planned it to be 7 seasons. That has some merit until you realize there was nothing to really latch onto in those 13 episodes and it wreaks of incredibly bad story telling. Take any series' first 13 episodes and more than likely they will have drawn you in far more and established their universe far far better than Firefly did.

    So if Firefly came out today it would be received as pretty bad. It might however get a second season as there are more people willing to wait longer and want a sci-fi series in space again, but most would just view it as another series to hold them over till something better comes along.

    If I had to call this TV generation anything it would be something to encompass that of the retardation of intellectual genres to appeal to the intellectually lazy.

  6. OMG, it's so good to see you guys back! The animation is getting tighter by the episode! Props to you all responsible! But man, it's a frickin' shame that I don't watch TV no more =_= seriously, it's only the internet for me, gaming, work, my TV hasn't had an antenna in YEARS, I kid you not.

  7. Man I love these and the quality is awesome too bad i don't really watch tv anymore nothing is any good for my preferences so im stuck finding 90s shows to marathon because nothing's really good these days its like all my favorite channels threw the best writers out the window so they don't have to pay as much for a story

  8. I'd call this current 'age' the 'Cable Rennaissance' because most of these programs that are considered to be of a particularly high quality come from cable networks, with the exception of breakout shows from outside of the US such as Sherlock or The Killing.

    But as you guys point out, its all largely subjective and the semantics of a name is more for shock value than anything else.

  9. There are some great TV shows out now, like, REALLY good. Some I think are overrated, but I can't deny the quality of the shows we're getting. I really like how many channels are able to air content that used to be saved for theater films. On the other hand, a lot of the Entertainment industry now has some bizarre cult of personality, and big figures that I think are smug jackasses. Really makes me wish for more Clint Eastwoods or Stanley Kubricks or something kicking ass in the media now. People with personality and something new to bring to the table and not the same ol' Hollywood playbook being used over and over again. That's why I get hesitant to call this some sort of platinum age, at least for me. There are great shows and personalities, but it's a different kind of personality that I'm not fully sold on.

    I will say that I tend to wait for Netflix or DVDs of the shows to come out though. The commercials, when they have them, really breaks the immersion. Back when the Walking Dead was still enjoyable for me, nothing was worse than a serious moment occurring, then a fade to black, and then some peppy voice talking about The Talking Dead or what's new at McDonald's. Kind of breaks my focus and feels. Luckily some channels/shows are free from this bullshit.

  10. I think that the reason why the golden age of comics is called the golden age is because they are worth thousands and sometimes millions of dollars because of how few original runs are still left in the world. 🙂

  11. Well one thing is that Firefly would not be cancelled. But it's very uncertain whether that is a good or bad thing. Of course I want more Firefly but then again. I used to love Supernatural but it's seriously overstaying it's welcome (by like 4 seasons soon to be 5) and it's never-ending.  I mean even good Whedon stuff like Dollhouse or Buffy started off strong but just got kind of meh later (with season 2 and 5 respectively). So In all honesty I'd rather have 1 brilliant season of Firefly rather than 8th gimmick season of something I loved but has gone so wrong.

  12. The reasoning behind ages is an acknowledgement of a statistical anomaly. Creating something that is truly outstanding and received well by critics and consumers alike is a very rare thing. Creating a multitude of outstanding works is an even rarer thing. When you factor in the amount of potential executive meddling, it becomes a near miracle for anything truly amazing to come out.

    Consider 2004-2005 in gaming.

    Off the top of my head, I can think of Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, Resident Evil 4, Halo 2, KotoR 2, Painkiller, MGS3, Katamari, Republic Commando, Shadow of the Colossus, Chaos Theory.

    Right before the seventh generation, there were some truly astounding games released, some of which have yet to be rivaled by anything released since.

  13. Also this ending killed me. I love you guys. I don't always agree with what you say… but everyone has their right to his or her own opinion. I am always checking for new videos to watch. I wish you would upload more… but at least you upload some. That makes it okay with me.

  14. I'm kind of sad that The New Normal was cancelled. It would have been a HUGE favor to the LGBT community and do something GOOD for them. The show had the promise of showing homosexuals as normal people, a concept I agree with 1,000%, because let's face it: they're human, just like you and me. 

  15. The only real reason Firefly got canned was because Tom Rothman, who was the head honcho of FOX at the time, "didn't get it".  Basically one dictator's opinion over millions of viewers'.

  16. I quote this video and people never know what I'm talking about, but the Mickey Mouse part is one of the best things I've heard. This entire video is so awesome!

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