July 8, 2010

Evening News Watch: NBC Trick May Have Enabled Big 3 Nets to Avoid Going Below Combined 19 Million

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:34 pm

NBCABCCBSchartGraphicLast week, Matt Robare at NewsBusters noted the fact that the Big 3 networks’ combined year-over-year audience fell by a bit more than 1 million during the second quarter.

Last week’s showing appears to be to a slight pickup over the previous week, but it may have been much worse.

Here, per Media Bistro, is how the the week of June 28 as reported by Nielsen compared to the week of June 21, the last reporting week of the aforementioned dismal quarter:

June 21 — NBC – 7,190,000; ABC – 6,740,000; CBS – 5,230,000; Total – 19,160,000.

June 28 — NBC – 7,800,000; ABC – 6,740,000; CBS – 4,970,000; Total – 19,510,000.

So how did NBC attract over 600,000 additional viewers during the week of June 28, increasing its audience by over 8%? The answer, according to Media Bistro’s Kevin Allocca, is that the network probably didn’t:

On Thursday and Friday, “NBC Nightly News” was coded as “Nitely News” in the Nielsen ratings (similar to last summer) and the newscast was therefore excluded from the average over those two lower-rated days heading into the holiday weekend while Brian Williams was out. ABC and CBS averages are based on all five days.

Clever, eh?

In his coverage of last year’s NBC similar trick during the week of June 29 — a week where the reported combined audience was 20,180,000 — Media Bistro’s Chris Ariens observed that “The practice, however, is within Nielsen’s guidelines.”

Some “guidelines.” That’s like a baseball team getting away with excluding its worst two innings, or an NBA team unilaterally deciding that the second half didn’t count.

Given that one of its competitors lost ground week to week while the other just stayed even, it’s reasonable to believe that NBC’s June 28 full-week performance was no better than June 21. If so, the total audience at the Big Three networks really fell below 19 million.

Oh, how the formerly mighty in the statism-compliant establishment media have fallen, and continue to fall.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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