Inside TV Audience Testing

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

TD00428 I visited Las Vegas this week with my sister to see Britney Spears’ show at Planet Hollywood, but we had to find stuff to do the rest of our three-day stay because neither of us likes gambling. Good news! It’s fall-pilot-testing season for the broadcast networks. And CBS and NBC reps were out in force recruiting people off the Las Vegas Strip during the day to watch some shows and answer survey questions about them. Oh, and they were offering anywhere from $20 to $50 for opinions, depending on the length of the show and the intensity of the questioning. Brilliant! Now we could “win” money in Vegas and lose nothing. We couldn’t present ourselves to the recruiters fast enough.

Both of us are TV nerds, so we loved this idea. I’ve always wondered about the mythical testing process, which is an integral part of any great show’s origin story…

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