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The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States.

What's the Billboard 200's counterpart for TV shows, that publishes viewing statistics periodically, e.g. monthly?

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Obviously TV viewership, which includes broadcast TV as well as cable and streaming is somewhat more difficult to quantify than Music sales.

So audience measurement is done by market research companies and is more akin to polling, in that a sample of consumers report their viewing habits through a variety of different manual or automated systems.

In the USA the closest in national stature to The Billboard 200 are Nielsen TV Ratings

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  • Aren’t Nielsen Ratings getting more automated? I think cable and web television services are reporting to Nielsen now. Specifically, on demand services can track viewership. If you go to entertainment apps like YoutubeTV, Peacock, Pluto, Hulu, or any of the station/network apps, they will have a disclaimer regarding data privacy and tracking where they specifically mention Nielsen. Netflix and Amazon will have your complete history of shows watched. Clicks, in this case, can be tracked. It is probably trackable on regular, landline cable as well. The privacy disclaimer is just better hidden.
    – Dean F.
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:17
  • @DeanF.. They have been somewhat automated for some time. In key city markets they have had 'boxes' which record the usage of broadcast TV even. In smaller markets they rely on people keeping a diary. Also, I seem to recall articles claiming that Netflix (and presumably other streamers) don't provide their data directly for Nielsen to use. So they may rely on other mechanisms to collect that.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:46
  • AFAIK most of these streaming services report next to nothing. At most you get the occasional celebratory press release about subscribers or some hit movie/series, but in most cases there is no independent data. Netflix especially is very secretive, and their "x million people watched this" metric often "x million people watched more than the first five minutes of this". I don't think there are any hard numbers about for instance CBS All Access or Disney+ either.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:53
  • @BCdotWEB - I imagine the station/network apps like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, etc have a vested interest in providing data to Nielsen. This data equates to advertising revenue. Where as pay services like Netflix do not have a vested interest. Netflix can adjust their program lineup based on the tons of internal data they have. Their income is based on subscribers regardless of viewership.
    – Dean F.
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:54
  • There is also a company that relies on a beeper/pager style of device to monitor what a person is watching based on the sounds it picks up (sort of like SoundHound or Shazam). They target mainly seniors, promising to pay them for wearing the device. To me, it sounds like a scam.
    – Dean F.
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 14:56

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