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News - Oprah Crosses the Line with Neilsen

Feb/2012

21

Oprah Crosses the Line with Neilsen

Oprah Winfrey routinely reminds her 9 million-plus followers on Twitter to tune into her network, OWN, where she is able to interact with viewers on specific nights, including premier evenings.  This has created a personal touch, not only to the network, but between Oprah and her fans.

This was fine and good until last Sunday night, when Ms. Winfrey broke a rule that Neilsen rarely has to enforce.  “Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box,” she wrote on Twitter just as a new episode of her interview show, “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” began.  What seemed to most unsuspecting Twitter users to be a simple call to watch a struggling network was seen by Neilsen as a potential serious violation of its policy. 

Neilsen prides itself on providing an unbiased sample of television viewership numbers across approximately 25,000 households around the United States, and makes sure that the sample is not persuaded to watch specific channels or programs. 

The morning after, Winfrey removed the Twitter post at Neilsen’s request, and issued an apology. “I intended no harm and apologize for the reference,” Winfrey stated.

The request made by Winfrey to viewers was a bit desperate in some critics’ eyes.  The last year has been hard for Winfrey, whose cable network has shown disappointing ratings early on, much to the chagrin of those with a stake in the venture. 

The viewership figures for Sunday’s episode will be flagged, noting “possible biasing effect”, a Neilsen spokesman stated.  The exact numbers were not immediately available, but one wonders what effect this will have on the icon’s future with her OWN network.

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