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Another Nielsen Controversy Arises

October 7, 2007 9:00 PM

Phone calls were flying to Nielsen late Friday about the measurement company’s plan to issue network performance data this week comparing the start of the season last year (Sept. 18) to its start this year (Sept. 24). What’s wrong with that? Well, about a week, which at some point needs to be folded into the comparisons or you end up with an extra week at the end of the year. Two weeks into the season that’s fine, but once the low-rated holiday periods kick in, things get screwy for measuring how shows performed versus the same week last year. Come Thanksgiving, the ratings are no longer a cranberries-to-cranberries comparison. More to the point for networks: The early fall season story is sunnier for ABC under Nielsen’s current measurement, but would benefit Fox’s seasonal comparisons if the extra week were factored in now. The flap follows a scuffle over NBC’s use of a new Nielsen rule that allowed the network to issue a single rating for two airings of its "Heroes" premiere.
—James Hibberd

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