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Two-Timing ‘Heroes’

September 30, 2007 9:00 PM

The highly rated return of NBC’s "Heroes" was blemished after the network opted to take advantage of a new Nielsen Media Research rule that allowed NBC to tout a single, cumulative rating for two airings of its "Heroes" premiere (from Monday’s debut and a Saturday repeat). Competitors and advertisers cried foul to Nielsen, accusing the fourth-place network of double-dipping to boost its premiere rating. "NBC didn’t do anything illegal—they’re using a rule," says Preston Beckman, Fox’s scheduling head. "NBC has every right to run the show with the same commercials and have some kind of cume rating. It’s Nielsen’s obligation to still supply the industry with a separate program rating for both nights." Nielsen is re-examining the rule in light of the protests, and most expect the policy to change. Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and media development, said including non-premiere viewing is a worthy goal for all networks in the digital era, and that NBC was merely complying with Nielsen’s rule. "We never asked Nielsen for this," Mr. Wurtzel said. "Everybody got the notice that Nielsen was changing their rules. Nobody should have been surprised. We didn’t tell Nielsen how to calculate this—they told us." —James Hibberd

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