What is TAM ?

Television, in nearly every country around the world, has become the dominant medium for information, commercial communication and entertainment. This has led to the ever-increasing desire by broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies to have accurate, consistent and detailed information about TV audiences.

TAM (Television Audience Measurement) is the specialised branch of media research, dedicated to quantifying (size) and qualifying (characteristics) this detailed television audience information.

Ratings, the “Common Currency”

With the billions of dollars spent annually on TV programs and commercials, reliable TV audience information is required to evaluate and maximise the effectiveness of this investment.

Ratings: the percentage of a given population group consuming a medium at a particular moment.

Generally, when used for broadcast medium, one rating point equals one percent of the given population group. These ratings are qualitative in nature, similar to a voting system; the higher the number of viewers, the 'better' the program or commercial.

These ratings, if reliable and valid, become the 'common currency' for the market's commercial airtime. Media planners and buyers evaluate the alternative programs offered to best achieve their advertising goals; broadcasters evaluate the program or station’s popularity and how much to charge an advertiser for commercials during a program or on a given channel. In cases where the channels are funded wholly or partly by public license, ratings also provide accountability.

Reliable, Independent and Transparent Audience Measurement System

In order to provide a country or a market with valid and reliable television audience data, specialist expertise are required.

The system needs to be the result of many years of accumulated relevant experience, research and development coupled with the ability to evolve to changes in TV technology, research technology and the users’ TAM system needs.

A TAM system is reliable only when the measurement system would yield very similar findings if independently carried out a number of times.

A TAM system is independent when the supplier operates from a position of neutrality recognised by all the market’s players. Close links to one of the interested parties would generate suspicion about the data bias, which would prevent its acceptance as a common currency.

And a TAM system is transparent when every component of the system is comprehensible and accessible to qualified auditing by the market.

Towards a recognised, global standard for TAM Operations

Nielsen is committed to the standardisation of all its TAM operations.

This does not imply only the use of state-of-the-art proprietary metering technology, hardware and software, but also a consistent approach in sample design, panel recruitment, database production and process quality control. This has resulted in the creation of standard procedures and operating manuals, and has created the need for regular training courses and a continual process of internal auditing.

The Nielsen Company’s Corporate Support Centre receives the key production performance indicators from each local operation on a daily (overnight data production) or weekly basis. This data includes the number of homes polled in each country, the number of homes discarded during the validation process and the reasons why, and the number of homes produced in the final daily information.

All Nielsen TAM standards have been set based upon the guidelines of the ARM - EBU ‘Towards Global Guidelines for Television Audience Measurement’, published in 1999.

Our belief in establishing a recognised global standard for TAM operations is particularly important as more and more media companies, advertisers and agencies ‘go global’ and need true multinational TV audience information. As consolidation continues to sweep through the television advertising industry, and more and more companies establish a global footprint, the need for homogeneous multinational audience research will continue to grow.



In a world increasingly defined by global markets, connected consumers and volumes of digital information, The Nielsen Company employs advanced data collection methodologies and measurement science to help businesses turn new and traditional sources of data into customer intelligence to better manage their brands, launch and grow product portfolios, optimise their media mix and establish meaningful customer relationships.

Nielsen is the world’s leading marketing and media information company. We’re passionate about measuring and analysing how people interact with digital platforms, traditional media and in-store environments - locally as well as globally. We provide the most complete understanding of how consumers get information, consume media and buy goods and services.

Above all else, our ongoing commitment is to align our business with our clients’ needs to ensure they have a competitive edge in an expanding global economy.

The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA.


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