May 5, 2009
Process This, Nielsen
TV types have become shockingly immune to reading the words "Nielsen processing issues" on their Blackberries. It seems the ratings giant finds a reason to delay reporting numbers at least once a week.
But this week's Nielsen blackout—numbers for both Sunday and Monday had not yet been revealed as of late Tuesday; weekly ratings were also held up—has some industry insiders slack-jawed.
"It's outrageous," one veteran number cruncher told me today, throwing in a few four-letter words for good measure.
Inexcusable is the word that came to mind for me.
Networks have typically been reluctant to embrace the idea of funding an alternative ratings system, both because of the high cost associated with such a move and because of fear that a new system might prove that fewer people are watching TV than Nielsen says.
Cost remains a valid concern, but given how low ratings have gotten for many network shows, perhaps a new system—one that better accounted for time-shifting—might actually end up increasing viewer totals.