For throwback Thursday, we’re turning the clock back to the 1990s, when Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI) developed a potential competitor to Nielsen’s TV ratings service. The TiceVision website is the repository of the only digital archive of publications created during the S•M•A•R•T ratings project. As a new media researcher – transitioning from my previous career in aerospace engineering – I had the pleasure of working at SRI and contributing to the S•M•A•R•T initiative.
What was S•M•A•R•T?
Between 1993 and 1999, Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI), under the leadership of Gale Metzger, developed new measurement and reporting technologies that were tested in field via a television ratings laboratory in the Philadelphia market. S•M•A•R•T (Systems for Measuring and Reporting Television) was initially funded by a consortium of TV networks and ad agencies to develop a ratings service competitive to Nielsen. Despite funding of a rumored $40+ million over the life of the project, the eventual lack of commitment of the sponsors to a full-scale ratings service marked the transition of S•M•A•R•T from a potential business to a “ratings laboratory.”
SRI published a number of different papers as a result of the S•M•A•R•T initiative that documented the research undertaken and its methodological development. In the archive is perhaps the most complete collection of these historical documents still available, scanned by hand from the original paper documents. They are offered in the spirit they were distributed, free to whomever in the industry has an interest, whether they were S•M•A•R•T sponsors or not.