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Advertising Rates & Media Ratings: Television & Cable

How to Calculate Rates

To calculate television ad rates, take the SQAD cost-per-point (in US$) for market and multiply it by the Nielsen rating for the program that airs at the same time. That will equal the cost of the ad.

SQAD cost-per-point 
x Nielsen rating 
= (relative) TV ad cost

Step 1: Get SQAD cost-per-point

    • For summary data, consult the Thumbnail Media Planner (print, Park Library reference, HF5415.3 .T48).
    • For detailed data by media market, consult SRDS TV & cable source (print, at Davis Library reference, call number HF5905 .S745).

Step 2a: Get Nielsen ratings data from one of these UNC sources:

Nielsen TV Ratings graphicDaily Variety publishes a weekly TV ratings chart. Access that through the library (via Film & Television Literature Index with Full Text) (1994-2017)

Detailed notes:

  • The full-text isn’t online until 1999; you’ll be able to request missing years through Interlibrary Loan.
  • From 1999-2017, the full-text is available
  • A few years are very sparse – 1998 + 1999 for instance seem to have only one report per year.
  • There are some duplicates (i.e., articles with a headline “Hot Numbers” is the same as an article with the headline “Nielsen Ratings” – but *not* doing that eliminated a bunch of articles).

Step 2b: Get Nielsen ratings data from one of the following free sources:

Note: UNC does not have print or digital access to the full data collected by the A. C. Nielsen Marketing Information Company. This data is proprietary and only available to clients of A. C. Nielsen.

Books to Help Calculate Ad Rates

Park Library Chat


Books about Television

Info. About Television Markets