A History of President Trump’s Relationship with Nielsen Ratings

DISCLAIMER: This article has nothing to do with the president's politics. I am solely focusing on the way he has used Nielsen ratings and whether his usage was correct or incorrect.

Whether you are a supporter or detractor, it's no secret that President Donald Trump loves to talk about ratings. From football to award shows, The Donald enjoys using numbers to support his many arguments on Twitter. But, does Trump use ratings accurately or is he simply cherry-picking data to prove a point? To answer that question, let's look at four different examples where he attacked and praised through Nielsen numbers. 

Exhibit A: Emmy Ratings

In this instance, the president knocked the 69th Emmy Awards after Hollywood made fun of him during the ceremony. Trump claimed that the Emmy ratings were 'the worst ever'. Ultimately, the president was correct. The Emmy Awards garnered a 2.5 rating in the Adults 18-49 demographic. This number was 11% below the 2016 ceremony which had a 2.8 and was the second lowest. But, in total viewers, the 69th Award slightly edged out the 68th one (11.38 million vs. 11.30 million). Nevertheless, Trump said 'ratings' not 'viewers', so his statement was valid.  

Did Trump use Ratings Correctly?: YES

Exhibit B: NFL Ratings

Trump covered a lot in this lengthy tweet, but let's focus on that last part ('ratings way down'). Currently, Sunday Night Football is down just 9% from last year in the Adults 18-49 demographic. So far, that is actually a better hold than the past season when it was down 11%. A single-digit decline is a solid trend and not 'way down'. It's clear that the president was simply angry about the 'Take a Knee' situation and did not look at the data.

Did Trump Use Ratings Correctly?: NO

Exhibit C: Celebrity Apprentice

Arguably, this is Trump's most famous interaction with ratings. The president decided to attack Schwarzenegger in an attempt to explain how the Donald is irreplaceable. Trump was 100% correct in this case. The Schwarzenegger version of the Apprentice was down 44% from the final Trump season. Trump's last season garnered a 1.91 rating in Adults 18-49 while the most recent one managed a much weaker 1.08. Additionally, NBC basically canceled the show. Trump easily takes the win in this round. 

Did Trump use Ratings Correctly?: YES

Exhibit D: Hannity

In a more recent tweet, the president decided to give a shout-out to one of his fans and compliment him on his 'great ratings'. According to our ratings database, Hannity is down 11% from October 2017 and hovers around the 0.2-0.3 range in Adults 18-49. Nevertheless, it still does exceptionally well in Adults 25-54, so it's possible that the Donald was using that demographic when he wrote the tweet. Moreover, Hannity is one of the higher-rated programs on cable and regularly cracks the Top 25. Technically, Trump is correct. But, this is the same person who wants us to believe that NFL ratings are failing because they are down 9%. Given his inconsistency, he only gets partial credit this time.

Did Trump use Ratings Correctly?:  Somewhere in the Middle 


The president seems to have a basic understanding of Nielsen ratings, but he will sometimes use data incorrectly to prove his point. 

What did you think of this article? Was I too easy on Trump? Too hard? Is this just fake news? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

Share this

Related Posts

Next Post »