They always lie, even in areas where you didn’t know lying was possible:
If I mistakenly write “NBC Nitely News,” you can probably still tell what program I’m talking about. Nielsen’s automated system can’t, however, and a report Thursday in The Wall Street Journal details how networks are taking advantage of that fact to disguise airings that underperform with viewers.
It’s described as a common practice in the world of TV ratings, where programs with higher ratings can charge advertisers more to run commercials. When an episode performs poorly with viewers, the networks often intentionally misspell the show title in their report to Nielsen, according to the Journal. This fools the system into separating that airing out as a different show and keeping it from affecting the correctly-spelled show’s average overall rating.
The report says the practice was initially used sparingly — for instance, when a broadcast would go up against a major sporting event. But it has now grown fairly common, with NBC misspelling the title of “NBC Nightly News” 14 times since the current TV season began last fall. At one point, that reportedly included an entire week of broadcasts.
Competitors ABC and CBS allegedly followed suit, with ABC reportedly submitting “Wrld News Tonite” on seven occasions over the same time period. CBS reportedly misspelled the name of its evening newscast as “CBS Evening Nws” a total of 12 times. (CBS is the parent company of CNET.)
Translation: the ratings of the failing TV companies are collapsing even faster than the official numbers indicate. So keep in mind that when you’re reading books, playing games or pirating video instead of watching it on TV or at the theatre, you are helping bring down the media enemy.