In TV Ratings Game, Networks Try to Dissguys Bad Newz from Nielsen

To Inform is to Influence

They misspell shows to fool the firm’s automated system into ignoring broadcasts on nights with few viewers; “NBC Nitely News”

Joe Flint
July 6, 2017 10:22 a.m. ET

Boosting TV ratings is easy for networks that don’t mind playing dumb.

In a game largely sanctioned by TV-ratings firm Nielsen, television networks try to hide their shows’ poor performances on any given night by forgetting how to spell.

That explains the appearance of “NBC Nitely News,” which apparently aired on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend this year, when a lot of people were away from their TVs. The retitling of “NBC Nightly News” fooled Nielsen’s automated system, which listed “Nitely” as a separate show.

Hiding the May 26 program from Nielsen dramatically improved the show’s average viewership that week. Instead of falling further behind first-place rival “ABC World News Tonight,” NBC news narrowed the gap.

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC…

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