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Nielsen May Have Overstated Ratings for Jets-Patriots Game

11/25/2008 12:12 PM Eastern

Nielsen may have overstated viewership for NFL Network—and understated numbers for three local TV stations—for a simulcast earlier this month of a New York Jets-New England Patriots game, the ratings company told its clients Tuesday.

“We have identified a crediting anomaly for the simulcast of the Nov. 13 New York Jets vs. New England Patriots NFL football game in which the reported local market ratings for the NFL Network may have been somewhat overstated and the reported ratings for the three local stations—WCVB and WMUR in Boston and WPIX in New York—may have been somewhat understated,” Nielsen said in a memo to clients.

The measurement company said that it appeared that individual minute ratings for the three stations may have been understated by less than 7% for the Nov. 13 game.

"We were extremely happy to make the New York Jets versus New England Patriots NFL Football game available on over-the-air television to football fans in New York and the surrounding area," WPIX president and general manager Betty Ellen Berlamo said. "However, we were very disappointed to learn of Nielson's crediting anomaly which negatively affected WPIX's ratings by underreporting our broadcast of the Nov. 13 game. Though the game finished No. 1 in its time period by a wide margin, we eagerly await the corrected ratings, which we expect will reflect an even greater number of viewers."

Nielsen estimated Jets-Pats averaged 4.4 million viewers on NFL Network that night. 

“We are currently determining whether there is any impact to the local market reported numbers which are quarter-hour based,” Nielsen said, adding that it will have an analysis done by no later than Dec. 3.

“The crediting situation pertains to some feeds of these stations when they aired the simulcast of the NFL Network telecast,” Nielsen said. “In some minutes during the game, two ‘final distributor’ A/P meter codes (one for NFL Network, one for the respective station) were coming through at the same time instead of the station code overriding the cable network code. We are researching the root cause of the issue and are currently investigating whether or not it has occurred in any of the other simulcast football games this season.”

The ratings company said it is looking at a number of solutions to the anomaly.

“This includes investigating business solutions involving the feeds that the cable networks distribute, as well as internal solutions involving software editing rules and engineering changes,” Nielsen said.

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