She might be known for her ridiculous generosity on her former talk show, but Oprah Winfrey has landed herself in hot water with Nielsen by asking her fans on Twitter to give her something: their ratings.
The superstar has over 9 million followers on her @Oprah Twitter account, and they all heard the same message loud and clear on Sunday night: those of you with Nielsen boxes, please, please tune into my OWN network!
The New York Times reports that Oprah tweeted the following message on Sunday night, just as a new episode of her show “Oprah’s Next Chapter” aired:
“Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box.”
Oprah has been tweeting about her shows, her OWN network, and even asking followers to tune in for a long time. However, directly pointing to those with Neilsen boxes is a big no-no.
Neilsen measures television viewership by examining the habits of 25,000 households containing one of its boxes to get the ratings for each and every show on the air. And this data is contaminated if viewers are explicitly told to watch a particular show.
Oprah’s tweet violated Nielsen’s policy, and because of this, the next time the ratings company passes around OWN’s viewership stats, it will have a shameful asterisk beside its entry that will note a possibly biased outcome.
A spokesperson explained to the New York Times: “It is Nielsen’s policy to note attempts to single out panel members to either change their viewing habits or otherwise influence or affect their reporting.”
Oprah issued a statement saying that she was sorry for the tweet and “intended no harm”, and it looks like her OWN network will experience no further repercussions over this 69 character plea for viewers.
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