If TV ratings are fake, in what should advertisers trust? Some is the dilemma in China today, as news leaked that, CSM, the only Chinese company still churning out TV ratings data, may be massaging numbers for customers willing to pay the price.

This is big news (for some people), because after the withdrawal of Nielsen from the Chinese market, CSM is the only game left in town. Nielsen left because of a corporate re-shuffle, but also because it could not crack the Chinese market. The problem was twofold. First, for all the hoopla regarding the death of TV, it is actually doing okay. In the United States, while traditional media like magazine are going down faster than a rock, TV is apparently is holding steady, both in terms of viewership and revenue.

Call it the paradox of the Internet era. People went negative on TV because in this age where everyone is connected and could get everything they want. The scholar Cass Sunstein famously worried that, with the Internet rapidly becoming a mass media, every consumer will get a routine dose of “daily me” tailor specifically for them. That did happen, but TV didn’t suffer as big a hit as other media; apparently, the habit of sitting in front of a tube and doing nothing is just too strong.

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Yang Wang

Yang is currently the brand and media director at Elitime Media & Consulting. He has published and translated seven books, and several of his works have been translated and published in areas such...