Want to get paid just for watching TV?
That’s the dream, right?
The good news is that dream can become a reality if you sign up as a Nielsen Family and contribute to the company’s TV Ratings Survey.
Nielsen is a global measurement and data analytics company, based in New York, that has been measuring what people watch, buy and listen to for decades (since the 1920s).
Nielsen has operations in more than 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population.
And TV is big business – the company estimates that there are 119.6 million TV homes in the U.S. – whether they’re hooked up to cable, satellite, digital antennae or the internet.
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What will I learn?
What’s a Nielsen Family?
Nielsen Families watch TV, track what they’re watching, and give the company feedback about their shopping and media use.
These opinions and experiences help the company more accurately understand consumers’ shopping and media habits.
Each “family,” which sometimes can even be a single person in a household, represents a percentage of the country’s population.
Through applied statistics, they can figure out the kind of viewership shows and commercials are getting.
The company uses the information to determine the cost of programming and whether a show has an actual audience.
Don’t worry. Your info, as a participant, is kept confidential.
The company promises not to license, publish or sell any of the personal information collected from its Families.
How to participate in Nielsen TV Ratings
Unfortunately, this is the tricky part – you can’t choose to become a panelist, you’re chosen to become one (but there are other ways to get paid by Nielsen. More on that later!).
The company says every home in the U.S. has an equal opportunity to be selected.
Homes are chosen using a combination of phone numbers, addresses and census information that is publicly available on the web.
It’s not clear exactly what the criteria are, except that you are chosen to represent a much larger swath of the TV viewing demographic.
Every year, the company mails one million paper diaries to randomly selected households of families who fit an open demographic.
If you’re one of them, the initial opportunity might come to you in the form of a piece of junk mail, or it might come to you through a phone call. It might even come in the form of a door hanger. So keep your eyes peeled.
One user mentioned that he almost threw away an envelope from the company inviting him to participate. It’s lucky he didn’t because it contained several dollar bills, along with the initial ask. (Lesson learned – always sort through your junk mail.)
Occasionally, field representatives will go door knocking to tell people about the opportunity.
How does Nielsen Ratings work
If you’ve received an email or correspondence asking if you would like to participate as a Nielsen Family, you’ll receive a large envelope with a short TV rating survey, a postage paid envelope or a letter inviting you to participate.
Some users have noted that their initial contact from the company contained several $1 bills just to prove the program’s legitimacy and persuade them to participate.
Once you agree, you may receive a digital set box that transmits your viewing data to the company, or you may receive a paper diary to fill out instead, especially if you live in a smaller market.
Some users have reported that the paper diary isn’t the easiest to use. It asks you to record the channel, channel number, date, and the name of the program in a small space.
It’s fairly common, also, that users wait until later in the week and try to fill out the diary by memory. Of course, that’s not preferred.
Users that have a set-top device bypass this step because their information is sent digitally.
Still a little behind the times, at the moment, Nielsen remains the standard in TV ratings.
As you turn in your viewing information, be prepared to answer more questions about your demographic and consumer behavior.
The company wants to monitor changes that may be affected by your viewing habits.
Keep in mind, none of the information you provide is available to fellow panelists.
Nielsen Family compensation
So how much can you make as a user?
Not a lot, but if you’re like me, almost anything paid for watching TV is a bonus.
User reviews regarding pay range from “not worth it” to “not bad at all.”
One estimated receiving about $10 per month, plus bonuses for sticking with the program at one month ($100) and three-month (another $100) milestones.
Someone else mentioned that it pays about $15 per month per member of your household participating.
Others mentioned additional chances to win more money throughout their experience.
Although the company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, its negative reviews outnumber the positive ones.
But then again, most people only leave a review when they have had a bad experience, so take online reviews and the numbers of good vs bad with a grain of salt.
Some reviewers complain that after an initial correspondence, they became inundated with spammy phone calls.
Customer service was also listed as a downside to the program.
However, there are a number of blogs across the web that share a sunnier side of the experience, so perhaps it’s better to see for yourself, should you get the opportunity.
Is Nielsen safe?
I’m sure you have some privacy concerns which is logical.
However, you should know that with all Nielsen panels, the information is gathered anonymously. Meaning they don’t use any of your identifiable information (name, address etc). They just use the general demographics of the users that go with the gathered data.
So instead of saying, Jane Doe visit Facebook.com 2 times day, it’ll be something like “a female between 20 and bought X and Y on Monday.”
So your name and address will never be attached to any of the data.
Nielsen Scam & Fake Money
As with any opportunity like this, be it mystery shopping, paid online surveys, paid focus groups and others, there are scammers out there who are waiting to take advantage of people who are ignorant about the facts.
For your own safety, if someone who claims to be with Nielsen knocks on your door, please ask for an ID and photo badge before engaging with that person.
If you’re not sure, you can contact the company at 1-800-237-8611 to verify that the person is legit.
By the way, you cannot participate in a Nielsen TV Ratings Survey if you work at a TV station, network, cable company, satellite provider, radio network, etc.
Other ways to make money with Nielsen
Can’t wait for an invitation from the company to join?
No worries, the company has other money making opportunities that you can join right away.
Here are a few:
1. Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
- Where to sign up: Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel
Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel is a research panel that focuses on how we use the internet by studying the sites we visit.
It’s basically just like the TV Rating panel but instead of studying people’s TV viewing habits, the focus is on internet usage.
As far as how much you can earn, it depends on how many devices you register. The more devices you register the more you earn
2. Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel
- Where to sign up: Nielsen HomeScan
HomeScan, also known as National Consumer Panel, is the exact same thing, except the focus here is on your grocery purchasing habits.
They’ll send you a free handheld scanner or you can install the free NCPMobile App.
You then use the scanner of the app to scan the barcodes on all the products you buy during a shopping trip.
For each scanning session, you earn points which you can then redeem for prizes.
Is Nielsen TV Ratings Legit?
You may be asking yourself whether it’s legit and worth a try.
I say if you’re lucky enough to get the chance – why not?
It seems like a low-risk, high-reward reward proposition.
Not only do you get the power to have some influence over what’s on TV, you also get paid for giving your opinion.
It may mean you have to be a little more engaged when you watch instead of being a passive viewer posting on Facebook with Netflix or a similar to Netflix streaming service on in the background. But with great power comes great responsibility, as they say.
By the way, if you like Netflix and binge watching, Netflix will pay you to binge watch shows.
To end this Nielsen Rating review, I’d say if you do get lucky and get an invitation to the program, give it a try for a while and see how you like it. If you don’t like it, you’re free to back out anytime.
Are you, or have you ever been a Nielsen Family?
Tell us about your experience in the comments.
Hi MoneyPantry, really such an amazing info about Nielson TV. This info is very useful to the people who like to earn $100 at home without doing any work. Thanks for sharing this info. Keep sharing.
I’ve done the radio program. It’s great and easy and you do get paid. It’s $12 but still!!
I love watching tv, this will be great for me
Sunni L Chacon
Sounds like a blessing
I got a letter from neilsen and it does pay you..great company!!!
Hi my name is John Sims have been reading reviews and like what I’m reading would love the opportunity to become a member
I have known about Nielsen in the neighborhood of forty years. I would appreciate the opportunity to become a Nielsen panel member.
My family was a member for a year. It was great pay for watching tv.
I don’t understand something. Did anyone have to wear meter (beeper) all the time? Really an inconvenience to wear a meter all day. Pay is not worth, not $100 a month, more like $15 to $12 a month.
I’m a Nielsen family. What gets overlooked is you multiply the amount paid by the number of people in the house. Everyone gets paid. It’s not hard work either. Stick a pager sized gizmo in your pocket in the morning and plug it in at bedtime. My family puts all the money together and saves it until it’s time to go to Vegas. We do group slot pulls and have done pretty well.
I would love to become a member of the Nielsen Family an watch TV in exchange for my opinion. Please contact me the next time a spot opens up. I feel I could definitely become a valuable asset to the family. I give honest opinions that are very detailed an love and enjoy the thought of making a difference in the world. I really look forward to hearing from you
I am a nielsen family have been for many years, but I haven’t received anything from them lately
STEPHANIE A DWYER
I was part of the Nielson ratings years ago and I received saving bond of 50.00 every six months. Still have them and when I pass my children will get them. Wish I could still be a part of it.
I love watching tv especially binge watching too. My family loves tv, we do movie nights daily and then catch up on our series.
Got a call from someone claiming to be the Nielsen rating family. Thought it was a scam so I declined to be a part of the program.
I am from India. Is the above program applicable to us also! Please clarify. I am already registered with Nielsen more panel. Thanks.
To my knowledge, they do not have a program in India.
I’ve been in the family for about 6 months. I’ve received so many gifts cards and love that incentive checks are coming. Yep I’m getting paid. Who knew?
I received an invitation to the survery earlier this week, filled it out the next day, and the following day someone from Nielsen came to my house and approached me about this opprotunity. She is coming later with her boss. Really hoping I met criteria, I love watching tv and would love even more to be paid for it!
I would love to be considered!
no only filled out letters from the mail
I have been with Nielson for 2 years. I am now finished. It was a pleasant experience. They are very nice to talk to and they are on the ball. If you are asked to be part of Nielson, go for it. All you do is wear the monitor and charge it at night. You get a check at the end of every month for watching TV. Not a lot of money but it’s something.
This all sounds great and I would be very interested in participating in Nielsen’s surveys to help radio and tv programmers.
Ruthie m cannon
This was nice an they do pay not much but they pay you it was fun I will love to be a part of the nielsen family
Leslie A Helms
I’m here… I watch TV last year, I got a letter in the mail with a couple bucks in it, and sadly I put it aside! But now Covid is here, I don’t think it’s leaving anytime soon… With all the variants…I will try if I’m still eligible, even if it’s just enough money to put in my gas tank, thanks for the opportunity
I want to know if the money is tax free.
Irma, if you make more than $600 a year, you have to declare that income and pay tax on it.
Most of these amounts are completely inaccurate. The current 2021 rate is $1 per registered TV per quarter. So I have 3 TVs and get a whopping $12 per quarter, plus the annoying updates to my information. You can’t just say everything is the same you have to waste 20 minutes answering the questions over again. They entice you at the beginning with a few free gifts and gift card bonuses but when you look at the time required it’s completely not worth your time. Not to mention internet bandwidth that is prioritized to their devices. The new monitor method will be connected to your modem before any other device so they can monitor exactly where you are using internet data. They also record A LOT of personal data like name, age, birthdate, plus many other data points. With so many companies having data breaches it’s only a matter of time before your entire family data is stolen or lost.
I and a family member did the radio diary and earned $10.00 each and was sent a $20.00 check in the mail today! But I guess I didn’t deserve the money I set the envelope with check inside on my side table and later when I returned to the living room, the dog had chewed into a million pieces!!! I am so mad but nothing I can do about it now.
I was a member for a couple of years. I reviewed new products.