Nielsen, the primary provider of TV ratings information to the industry, is expanding the reporting of its national survey to include same-gender couples.
It has also released a list of the top shows among those viewers for the first week of the 2018-19 season — and Murphy Brown ranks No. 1.
The company made the announcement Thursday in conjunction with GLAAD’s annual survey of LGBTQ representation on TV and is working with GLAAD on the best approaches to reflect LGBTQ inclusion in the national TV panel.
Nielsen will now give heads of households taking part in the TV panel the option to identify whether their spouse or unmarried partner is of the same gender. The information will be included in Nielsen’s demographic breakdowns alongside age, race and gender, effective immediately.
“Our clients are increasingly looking to better understand consumers of all types to effectively reach new and unique audiences,” said Brian Fuhrer, senior vp product leadership at Nielsen. “This translates directly into why diversity and inclusion is a business imperative for Nielsen and why we will continue to invest in ways to ensure our world-class TV panel reflects the true diversity of the consumer landscape. This enhancement will help both programmers and marketers gain LGBTQ audience insights and provide the industry with better understanding of the compelling opportunity these consumers represent.”
The company considers this a first step toward LGBTQ inclusion in its sample; in the future it may ask a similar question about LGBTQ identity to people who live alone. Nielsen partnered with GLAAD on the initiative to make sure it’s approaching a potentially sensitive subject in the right way.
“We are at the highest levels ever reported for LGBTQ inclusion on television, and it’s important that we know American audiences are connecting with these characters and shows,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “We appreciate Nielsen’s commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ people, wherever they live and consume television, are being counted — and that those numbers are being reported. GLAAD is proud to work alongside them as they continue to expand and enhance their capabilities.”
Nielsen also released a breakdown of the top 20 entertainment shows for the week of Sept. 24 among all viewers and among LGBTQ viewers. The two lists have a number of shows in common — Manifest, The Big Bang Theory and This Is Us rank in the top 5 on both, for instance — but also some differences.
The No. 1 show in same-gender spouse or partner homes was the premiere of Murphy Brown. About 13.7 percent of such homes — totaling 339,000 viewers — watched the CBS comedy within a week of its debut. It ranked just outside the top 20 overall.
FX’s American Horror Story finished well out of the top 20 among all viewers with about 4.8 million viewers. It ranked third, however, among same-gender partner homes with 9.6 percent (238,000 people) tuning in.