From the Z on TV blog:

For 25 years, my snootier acquaintances have been finding ways to try and insult me with the question: "Why would you choose to spend your life studying and writing about television?"

One answer: It's a growth industry, my friend. And it's the only one across my adult lifetime that I could count on to continue to grow.

And today as the economy slumps so badly that the media is suddenly filled with the term "double-dip recession," comes news from Nielsen that the audience of TV homes has grown by more than a million during the last TV season, while the number of viewers has increased by more than 2 million. Some dinosaur.

And here is a bit of the fascinating Nielsen research and analysis you will find there on market rankings and social trends:

There were more changes in the rankings compared to last year, yet still not as many as previous years. It was a tie for the largest increase in TV households, with Odessa-Midland and Austin, both rising four spots. The decline in the overall number of rank changes the past few years reflects overall slower household growth in the U.S. and large declines in domestic migration, particularly to Sun Belt areas. Major metropolitan areas lost less population than usual partially attributable to Baby Boomers delaying retirement plans, individuals unable to sell their homes, and/or individuals unwilling to move away from job-heavy markets. However, the recent increase in rank changes for this year seems to imply some of these phenomena are relatively short term and/or heavily contingent upon economic conditions.

Similarly, while many Florida markets had dropped in rank in the latest estimate (Tampa, Miami, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee) partially as a result of the aforementioned phenomenon, there is evidence of some “bounce back” for markets such as Miami and Tallahassee. Further, previous “high growth” markets (e.g. Las Vegas, Florida markets) which showed diminished growth or even declines in the last two estimates seemed to “stabilize” (i.e. maintain rank) for the most recent estimate. For all these markets, the decreases and/or growths do not necessarily reflect a true decline in population or households. The estimates may also reflect an adjustment to align with the most recent information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the first time since the Hurricane Katrina recovery period, the New Orleans market rank has declined (from 51 to 52). Though population in the market has increased, recent trends in Persons Per Household (PPH) indicate that previous PPH assumptions were too conservative (i.e. assuming fewer people per household). To better reflect contemporary population dynamics in the area, the PPH ratio was increased for the recent estimate, based on recent U.S. Census Bureau data, resulting in a smaller than usual increase in the Total Household estimate for this year which allowed the Buffalo market to pass New Orleans.