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Meaning of Nielsen rating

Niel'sen rat"ing

Pronunciation: [key]
  1. an estimate of the total number of viewers for a particular television program, expressed as a percentage of the total number of viewers whose television sets are on at the time and based on a monitoring of the sets of a preselected sample of viewers.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.