A tweet earlier in the day by FOX Research indicated that Fringe had a 1.4 Live+SD adults 18-49 rating on Friday while we and others had been reporting a 1.3 rating. Some have joked that it got a 1.3 rating in this universe but a 1.4 in the alternate universe, and that’s perhaps not all that far from the truth.
After speaking with Fox, it turns out that both numbers are true, but based on different reports. Effective January 31, Nielsen implemented new reporting into its NPower system that counts any duplicate viewing on DVR. It used to be that if you were in a Nielsen household and watched a show live, and then watched it again on DVR you would count only once. But after January 31, duplicate DVR viewing is now counted in the DVR numbers in the NPower system. The 1.4 number tweeted out by FOX Research was based on the new NPower reporting that counts duplicate DVR viewing.
Currently none of the fast national, final national or weekly national information we (or anyone else writing about ratings) see is based on the new reporting. It’s not clear to me the regular reporting we see will ever include duplicate viewing on DVR, or how the duplicate viewing is counted but I’m checking with Nielsen for clarification. But I wanted to get it out there that the number Fox tweeted wasn't wrong, it's just different.
Update: Ted Linhart (@TedOnTV), VP of program research at USA Network shed a little more light on this via Twitter. GAA, (gross average audience) the NPower metric that Fox used in their tweet will migrate to the other reporting systems that Nielsen uses in "April-ish". That jibes with my conversation with Fox, but what surprised me is Ted says that GAA will become the standard rating metric once it has migrated to all of the Nielsen systems. I'd figured average audience, rather than gross average audience, would remain the standard.
When I joked that the "Watch 10 Times on your DVR" fan campaigns might not be far off, Ted noted that could be, so long as the repeat viewing happened by 3am it would be counted in the Live+SD numbers.