Major news networks such as NBC, CBS and ABC have been purposely misspelling words to create a spike in their TV ratings, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
NBC has misspelled words on 14 separate occasions since September, frequently spelling their evening news program as “NBC Nitely News.”
This tactic fools the systems of Nielsen, a TV-ratings company, thus causing the misspelled version to appear as a second program. This then excludes the nights with bad ratings from the show’s official record, making it seem as though the program has a higher percentage of successful nights.
As the second highest-rated news station behind ABC, NBC has stood its ground amidst the controversial decision.
“As is standard industry practice, our broadcast is retitled when there are pre-emptions and inconsistencies or irregularities in the schedule, which can include holiday weekends and special sporting events,” a show spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.
NBC is not alone in its quest to win the numbers game, though. ABC News broadcasted “Wrld New Tonite” seven times and CBS aired “CBS Evening Nws” 12 times since September.
According to long-time TV and advertising executives, this is a fairly new practice.
“Networks never used to do this,” director of programming at Dentsu Inc., Billie Gold, said in the Wall Street Journal report.
Gold went on to express her frustration with trying to explain the discrepancies between the numbers ad firms estimate and what TV firms believe they should have, as the former is substantially lower to reflect the correct statistics.
Other ways networks try to fudge their numbers by airing the same show twice and factoring the additional viewers into the first viewing. They also cram all national TV commercials toward the beginning of shows so they receive more views.
With a lot of noise surrounding these questionable tactics, the Wall Street Journal reports that Nielsen will hold a meeting on the subject for TV industry reps in July.
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