MTVN Splits Nicks For Ratings

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A move by MTV Networks to split ratings measurements for Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite is drawing criticism from some programmers.

While the services have long been combined on one channel — Nick's kids' fare during the day and into evening, and Nick at Nite's sitcoms into later and overnight hours — MTVN said the networks have varied audiences and advertiser appeal.

The switch begins with Nielsen Media Research's second quarter on March 29.

The breakout would prove quite favorable for MTVN. Executive vice president of research and planning Betsy Frank said Nickelodeon would retain its leadership position among kids age 2 to 11 during its hours. Based on February, Nick also would have tied TNT for first in the primetime household ratings.

Nick at Nite, during its hours, would have placed second among adults aged 18 to 49 and first among women of those ages in total day, during the first quarter through March 18.

"It's something that is a long time coming and I think it's important," said Shari Anne Brill, vice president and director of programming for Carat USA.

Frank's fellow researchers weren't pleased.

"It makes all of our jobs a little bit more complicated. Somehow, total day has become nine hours, except on Friday and Saturday, where it's eight hours," said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for TBS Inc.

Tim Brooks, senior vice president of research at Lifetime Television, said: "They'll have eight hours, and other networks will have 18 or 20, on which their ratings are based, and yet they make a direct comparison between these two," he said. "In terms of who's first, and what networks are leading, it's quite misleading, actually."

Frank countered: "This is not about rankings, but making it easier for advertisers."

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