Did ABC Benefit From Nielsen Errors?

By Chris Ariens 

NielsenNielsen says a software glitch has led to errors in several months worth of ratings data. A software upgrade in March went unnoticed until this past Monday. The company will now reprocess all of the impacted data going back at least to Aug. 18 — for entertainment, news and syndicated shows.

David Poltrack, the Chief Research Officer at CBS, tells Broadcasting & Cable that ABC has benefited from the error.

“That’s pretty clear to anyone who’s been looking at the ratings. It’s certainly significant for ABC. It’s of lesser significance to the rest of us.”


When the numbers are revised, ABC’s are expected to go down and the others are expected to rise.

“Our entire industry relies upon Nielsen for accuracy and veracity, and we hope that they can quickly resolve this issue,” says Kevin Brockman, EVP of Global Communications for Disney/ABC. “We’re confident that the momentum we’ve seen across the network so far this season will continue, including delivery of the #1 new drama and the #1 new comedy on television.”

As for news programs, this could affect the outcome of the evening news battle between “NBC Nightly News” and ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

NBC fell behind ABC during one week in the summer of 2013 in the demo. Then in April — not long after the Nielsen errors began — the long-dominant NBC program began falling behind ABC. Since the week of June 30, “World News” has been a consistent, though narrow, No. 1 in the demo. Then last week, the ABC broadcast broke “Nightly’s” five-year winning streak among total viewers.