Rater Hater: Nielsen Rage is the New Black?

Categories: 1-Featured,Featured,TV Ratings

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September 17th, 2010

It wasn’t Modern Family, but Steve Levitan definitely is more tapped into the zeitgeist than I am.    Mr. Levitan was a refreshing surprise in the summer months, first being vocally outspoken about his wish that Modern Family not run online on Hulu or ABC.com.  Later he said that he just wanted a ratings system where everyone is counted.   There’s a lot of reasons why a system where everyone is counted doesn’t make business sense, but forgetting about that it’s definitely a sentiment that’s out there.

The refreshing thing was Mr. Levitan is the Emmy winning producer of the bona fide hit show Modern Family.   It would be one thing of such comments were coming from the producers and the fans of Better Off Ted.   It makes perfect sense that critically acclaimed but low-rated and then canceled shows would breed that sort of response.  But it’s rare to see that kind of carping about a hit show.

Finally, [Show X] Returns!

Now we’re in September and blissfully, Sons of Anarchy has returned.  When we posted the ratings numbers for the first episode last week (which were darn good), we noticed something surprising.  Fans of the show were upset with the ratings.   Despite the fact that the ratings were good, they were chiming in with comments we’d expect to see from fans of middling or low-rated shows.

Yesterday I wrote another post about how although the ratings were down a bit from last year for the second episode, it was still the number one scripted show on basic cable with the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 for the week.

Number. One. Not  number two or number 55 in the advertising target, but number one in its category (scripted drama). Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter linked to the post on his Sons of Anarchy Facebook page and so far that has produced over a hundred comments.  Mixed among them are plenty of comments like the ones at the top of this post raging against the Nielsen machine.   Though I’m sure FX is happy with the ratings, some of the fans are not.   If I were Kurt Sutter, I’d consider that a very good problem to have.

SOA is sure to be renewed, and not only is it doing fine in the ratings, against most of its peers it’s doing  absolutely fantastic.   We can ponder “Why the outrage?” but the better question might be this: who will capitalize on that outrage, and how?

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