"Server Issues" Delay TV Ratings; Network Execs Pissed

We’re in the middle of May sweeps week. Wondering how ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS are faring in the ratings? So are they.

In an extraordinary case of bad timing, server issues at Nielsen Media Research over the weekend have delayed overnight ratings for the past four days. Furthermore, since Nielsen believes it’s important to present these numbers in sequence, once everything’s up and running, they have to release Sunday’s ratings first.

Understandably, network execs are pissed at the delay. When The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter called NBC’s research president, Alan Wurtzel, today, he said, “Let’s talk about Nielsen ratings,” only for Wurtzel to shoot back, “We don’t have any!”

This is not only the week networks are running some of their biggest shows to present those high ratings to advertisers, they’re also trying to decide which bubble shows to renew. And that decision has to be made by the networks’ upfront presentations, which begin May 18.

Wurtzel later explained how much of an inconvenience Nielsen’s data outage has been:

“I don’t recall ever seeing such a long period of time that Nielsen’s gone without delivering ratings,” he said, adding that the lack of ratings “couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

“This comes at a particularly tough time of year because all of us are making evaluations about ‘bubble’ shows and time periods and so forth.”

Fortunately, Wednesday morning, Nielsen told its clients it was reviewing “all metered sample data for Sunday, May 3.”

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