UPN TARGETS NIELSEN'S COUNTING OF YOUNG MALES: NETWORK GOING AFTER AN AUDIENCE FREQUENTLY NOT MEASURED BY DIARIES

By Published on .

UPN is taking steps to make sure the young male viewers it hopes to attract are counted by Nielsen Media Research.

The network may go so far as to buy ads aimed at Nielsen diary editors in Venice, Fla., even though it has no affiliate in the market.

UPN and other networks have complained that younger viewers have been underreported by Nielsen's diary system in local markets. Senior VP-Research Eric Cardinal called the diaries "totally inadequate" for measuring young viewers.

Young panelists have proved hard for Nielsen to recruit, and since many live in large households, their viewing patterns are frequently unrepresented when diaries are filled out.

But UPN said it has a special group of problems that it needs to resolve. During a satellite teleconference with affiliates, it outlined a "Nielsen Bill of Rights" designed to try to make sure the net receives credit for the young males who watch its shows.

WRESTLING WITH CONFUSION

For one thing, the network is concerned there will be confusion between UPN's most important program, "WWF Smackdown!," and the various wrestling shows that diary editors have been accustomed to on cable.

Other shows where there may be misattributions are "Star Trek: Voyager" now that it joins other "Star Trek" versions in syndication, and its "Disney's One Too." That kids' block would be easy to mix up with either ABC's "Disney's One Saturday Morning" cartoons or the Disney Channel.

To try to eliminate the confusion, UPN executives said they plan to increase the number of network IDs that appear in programming. But they would like to make a presentation to familiarize Nielsen diary editors-the people who read the diaries and give credit to stations and networks-with their programming.

They believe the editors are unfamiliar with UPN shows partly because there is no UPN affiliate in the market and partly because the editors' average age is 57, well above the demographic UPN is trying to attract.

"They know from '60 Minutes,' " said Adam Ware, chief operating officer of UPN.

AVOIDING BIAS

Nielsen Senior VP-Communications Jack Loftus said Nielsen has answered network criticism that younger viewers are underreported.

He added that Nielsen turned down UPN's request to show its programming to the editors-and has turned down similar requests from other networks in the past.

"We don't screen our editors based on their knowledge of TV," Mr. Loftus said. "It would bias them, and others would rightfully object."

Mr. Ware said UPN was considering taking out ads where the editors work. He said the ads "wouldn't tell viewers to tune in, because they can't" since UPN has no affiliate in the market.

"It would say something like, 'Attention, Nielsen editors, this is the UPN program lineup.' "

In this article:
Most Popular