Bill O'Reilly and Fox News Channel vs. Nielsen

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October 27th, 2008

I'm still digesting the TVNewser.com story pointing out a dispute FNC has with Nielsen over the size of its DVR panel. Some very interesting tidbits in the story:

Another complaint is the small sample size when it comes to calculating viewership. Nielsen spokesperson Gary Holmes tells TVNewser that 14,000 households make up the national sample for Nielsen. Because "25% of the population has DVR," Holmes estimates that 25% of the Nielsen sample is DVR-capable as well, putting the figure at approximately 3,500 households. "3,500 is an adequate sample size," says Holmes. "3,500 is not too small."

Cheatwood disagrees. The 3,500 sample size equates to approximately 65-100 DVR households watching cable news on a given night, and as few as 8-10 households making up the time-shifted ratings, says Cheatwood. "The sample is so small it just defies any application of credibility," says Cheatwood. "It was one piece of information that confirmed our greatest fears. It just doesn't pass the test at all. First be transparent, secondly, please, so much rides on the info you put out there, please take the time to make it credible."

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this tomorrow after the World Series and Monday Night Football. Bill might have some sooner. Click on over to the full article on TVNewser.com.

Update from Bill: We were getting both Live and Live+SD cable news data last fall (but now get just Live+SD), and have lots of charts/tables from about a year ago with O'Reilly and Olbermann Live and Live+SD numbers for comparison. While I cannot be certain of the Live numbers today, a year ago a tiny % of O'Reilly's numbers were Same Day DVR viewing (<5%). Olbermann had a far higher (10-20%) typical Same Day DVR viewership. That could be explained by the younger skew of Olbermann's audience and also by the fact that O'Reilly was (and still is) rerun at 11pm each weekday. A year ago, I don't believe Olbermann was rerun at 10pm like he is now, but I'd love for a commenter who knows for sure to let me know. Today, because Olbermann is rerun at 10pm, his share of Same Day DVR viewers may be smaller.


Time Shifted Viewing – Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live+Same Day (Live+SD) and Live+7 Day. Time shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs which are currently in approximately 24.4% of all U.S. TV households. Live+Same Day (Live+SD) include viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3:00AM local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live+7 Day ratings include incremental viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

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