Hurricane Irma Is Delaying Sunday’s Nielsen Ratings ‘in the Near Term’

The company's Tampa-area facility was evacuated, putting NFL numbers on hold

Networks are in the dark about ratings for Sunday's NFL games like NBC's Sunday Night Football clash between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
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Nielsen announced that its ratings starting with Sunday—including the first Sunday NFL games of the season—will be delayed “in the near term” because of Hurricane Irma. The company’s employees were forced to evacuate its main processing facility near Tampa, Fla., which was in the path of the storm on Sunday. Nielsen said that ratings will not resume until its employees are able to safely return.

In a statement, Nielsen said: “Our first priority and thoughts are for the safety of our clients, Nielsen associates and communities in which we operate and serve. The team that reports ratings has evacuated the Tampa Bay area due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore, our ratings will be delayed in the near term. We are actively monitoring the situation in Florida and will provide another update as soon as we know more.”

Nielsen, whose facility is located in Oldsmar, Fla.,  was able to report ratings through Saturday, but numbers are on hold for Sunday, which featured the first weekend of NFL games. While those ratings were likely dented by Hurricane Irma—which has left an estimated 6 million Florida residents without electricity, and caused millions of others to flock to hurricane coverage on other networks—networks and buyers won’t know the full extent until ratings resume. Thursday night’s NFL kickoff game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, which occurred as Irma was gaining steam, was the lowest-rated season opener in almost a decade.

Fox is also awaiting ratings for this fall’s first broadcast series premiere: The Orville, which debuted after the network’s NFL doubleheader.

On Sunday, Irma made landfall on the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane, and wrecked havoc throughout the state in places like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Naples, Fort Myers and Tampa Bay. There are four confirmed deaths in the state.

Irma, which is now headed to Georgia, was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm today, but is still expected to affect Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.