When the press release landed in my in-box today, I almost couldn't believe it. Best news all year.
In November, 2008 - a little more than a year from now - Nielsen Media Research will install electronic Local People Meters to measure ratings in Sacramento.
What this will mean to you, the viewer, is that those local TV news sweeps during the months of November, February and May will be history. See, these LPMs measure ratings continuously, thus enabling TV stations to avoid stacking all their ratings bells and whistles into three months of the year.
Be still my heart! This is fabulous news. Now, the TV newscasts will have to put their best stuff on the air all year round.
Before I commenced dancing a celebratory jig around my desk, I e-mailed Bruno Cohen, president of channels 13 and 31, to ask about the advent of LPMs.
Bruno (at right) sure knows how to deliver a buzz kill.
He writes back: "The LPM's operate 24/7/365 and will, over time, create an environment in which the traditional rating periods will be de-emphasized. But the cyclical nature of the ad business continues to be very influential.
"Remember that ad time is sold in advance, not the day of air, so historical performance is a key to understanding how pricing is negotiated. The February, May and November ratings periods continue to be important in the markets that have had LPMs for years."
Uh-oh. Sounds like we might still have to watch scare-inducing "special reports" after November, 2008.