Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Whither the Nielsens?

If a TV show airs, and Nielsen Media Research is unable to deliver a rating for it, did anyone really watch? As the networks enter a three-week stretch of finales and other big events, they've been getting increasingly cranky over what the Nielsen folks have called "computer bugs," which have prevented the nets from getting any hard data on what kind of viewership the last four days' worth of shows have received. Variety has a good breakdown of the story and its larger meaning, but in brief: a server malfunction apparently screwed up Nielsen's Sunday numbers, and the company's effort to get that data correct has led to delays in each subsequent day's reports. How did the finales of Better Off Ted and Scrubs do? How many more viewers has Lost lost? These kinds of questions—many of which may affect series renewals—are being left unanswered right when the nets are preparing to finalize and announce their fall schedules. It's like the butterfly effect (and, to some extent, like The Butterfly Effect, in that it's kinda crappy).

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