Money for Nothing: Nielsen TV Survey

Just got a check for twenty bucks in the mail:

Nielsen Survey Thanks
Nielsen Survey Thanks

That’s in addition to the ten dollars folding cash money enclosed with the survey as, I suppose, a motivation to not chuck the whole thing in the trash.

The survey told us that our household had been “scientifically selected” to ensure a valid sampling of the TV viewing population, so it was very important to return the survey. I was astonished that they’d pay thirty bucks for a survey, but that’s probably a good indication of their desperation.

OK, sez I, I’ll play along; every man has his price.

It took ’em until Question 4 to get to the heart of the matter: how many television sets does our family own? Surprisingly, the first choice was “None” and, because that best describes our situation, that’s what I picked. Most of the other questions didn’t have a “Hell, no!” response, but I picked the smallest numbers, hours, and viewers they allowed.

While there is, in fact, a TV in our house, it’s parked on a basement shelf with its cord wrapped around it and hasn’t been turned on in years. Sort of like the “iron phone” I keep in a box nearby; it comes out when I must verify that the phone company’s problem is upstream of the jack on the side of the house.

And, besides, it’s an analog TV and we all know what that means: ain’t none of those signals on the air these days. Yes, we have a cable connection, but the only thing crossing the jack is Internet data and, IIRC, the Cablevision diagnostic channel.

We have a lot of time for interesting & productive projects. They didn’t ask about that sort of thing, though.

Our results were, most likely, something of a disappointment.

[Update: OK, three times is enemy action. I will delete further comments asking to be signed up for the survey. ‘Nuff said.]

27 thoughts on “Money for Nothing: Nielsen TV Survey

  1. I would like to do the weekly tv guide. my address is [Ed: snipped].

    1. I think you misunderstand what I was writing about.

      Nielsen sent me a survey in the mail and I filled it out. I don’t send surveys or TV guides or anything like that, nor do I know anyone who does.

      But if Nielsen (or anybody else) sends me another survey with a pile of money, I’ll fill that one out, too!

  2. We were recently “scientifically selected” too. $30 cash in the envelope. Our TV watching is sort of similar to yours. Our television is not connected to cable or satellite and does not get any local channels. We watch movies from time to time. The diary that they sent will be pretty simple to complete.

    1. I’m always suspicious of free money, but in this case it comes from advertising revenues for a bunch of stuff we don’t buy as a result of not watching the ads. Which means, of course, that all those folks out there in TV land are supporting us every time they buy something! [grin]

      1. a bunch of stuff we don’t buy as a result of not watching the ads

        You don’t know that. I never saw an Intel ad on TV, but I still own several of their CPUs. ;)

        1. PS Just to clarify, I haven’t had TV in any kind of traditional sense since at least ’07; it’s not just that I treat ads as a toilet/drink/whatever break. But we do watch e.g. The Guild and TableTop.

        2. I never saw an Intel ad on TV, but I still own several of their CPUs. ;)

          Well played…

  3. I would like to participate in your surveys by mail, my address is [Ed: omitted]

  4. Nielsen is sending me a survey in the mail as I type this. Yes, we have a working televison hooked up to Direct TV and our local cable company for local channels and internet. I do not watch a whole lot of television or channels, but there are many interesting and informative channels that I consider worthwhile. I love the History Channel, Learning Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, etc. One does not have to store their televisiion to avoid trash t.v. As for advertisers, the commercials these days are more humorous than the sitcoms (canned laughter, yuk) and I am not an avid consumer so their advertising dollars are wasted on me. Television is not all bad and it irks me that some people try to present it that way. I too have many interesting things that I enjoy and chances are if you come to visit me it will be OFF, but I make no apologies for having a working televison.

    1. Television is not all bad

      That’s certainly true, but from what I’ve seen it offers very little for the three bucks a day it would cost. I’d rather spend that kilobuck a year on other things and devote that time to building stuff in the basement.

      Most other folks think differently, of course, which is why television continues to have an audience…

      1. “Television is not all bad”

        “Television is something the Russians invented to destroy American education. ”

        — Paul Erdős

  5. HEY ED! I’d Like to do your $30 SURVEYS…
    Hey Wait! We don’t have a connected TV Either! ;)

    On Another Note, Nielsen offers more cheddar these days,
    seems I remember a 5 spot and a $10 completion bonus…
    Only 2-3 years ago, too! HYPERINFLATION is Here? lol

  6. Just got 10.00 in the mail from them today for doing a survey online. I was kind of surprised they sent cash in the mail. I read up on it to make sure it wasn’t a scam. They sent a 5 and five singles which was kind of odd. why would a huge company like that send cash instead of a check?

    1. why would a huge company like that send cash

      I think cash doesn’t involve any further bookkeeping or liability: when they mail the envelope, they’re done: if it doesn’t arrive, you’ll probably never notice and, even if you do, you probably won’t follow up with them.

      That doesn’t explain the singles, though. Maybe they had trouble with people missing a single bill and complaining that the envelope didn’t have the money, so now they make sure there’s enough bulk?

      1. Does Nielson send more than on survey if you complete one do you get another one to fill out? anyone know? Please let me know and reply to this. Thanks.

        1. Not in the nearly two years since that post, although I recall, somewhat vaguely, that we had gotten a similar survey many years earlier with a smaller payoff.

          If our replies didn’t discourage them from contacting us again, I don’t know what would!

  7. I only got $5 sounds like im getting ripped off…. its strange if you as me….

    1. They could be experimenting to discover how much less they can spend for each response… [grin]

      You can be sure somebody’s keeping a database or spreadsheet of the results!

  8. I am on my second survey with them! First one 5$ second one $30

    1. Sounds like you gave them the right answers the first time and they want more! [grin]

  9. i was surprised to get two dollars in one enevelope.then when i filled out the other survey for neilson tv i suppose to be getting thirty dollars.i hope it comes…

    1. It’s certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme; I hope they like the data they’re getting for their money!

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