Does One Viewer Matter

June 9, 2009 by admncc

This type of post is a first for The Constant Complainer.  Rather than my own post or a Guest Post, Leo Nevoli and I worked together on this one.  I’d also like to thank Jennifer Juniper from Hope Studios for suggesting this article as a topic.

I’ve often wondered if having a Nielson ratings box on my TV would make me feel better – like I was making a difference and letting the networks know what I watch.  According to NBC, you better believe it makes a difference.

NBC is struggling – we all know that.  They are last in the ratings race.  So who do they decide to pick on?  Some Pittsburgh Penguins hockey fans who wanted to gather to see their team play in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Interestingly, this fight was a rematch.  Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins offered fans an opportunity to watch any home game on a large screen located outside of the arena gates.  For any away game during the finals, when the Penguins played the Detroit Red Wings, the team arranged for the games to be viewed by anyone on the arena’s scoreboard.  All you had to do was buy a $5 ticket for the game.  But this $5 was not an admission fee; it was a donation to the Mario Lemieux Foundation – a cancer research organization.  The turn out was overwhelming.  Games at Mellon Arena would have 17,132 people inside, and an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people outside.  The games hosted inside the arena averaged about 4,000 people.

However, NBC didn’t succeed until this year in preventing the public viewings.  Currently, any game they broadcast is not being shown outside on the big screen for the fans.  However, games that were broadcast by Verses were available on the big screen.  The game Verses broadcast on June 4, 2009, at Mellon Arena, had 17, 132 people inside the arena, and an estimated 17,000 outside of the arena watching the game.

According to NBC, they did not want these public viewing to take place because anyone attending these games, that had a ratings box on their TV, would not be counted.

We dispute their theory.  Research suggests that approximately 5,000 homes have the Nielson box.  But there are approximately 113 million TV sets in people’s homes.  Based on that, we can speculate that there is a very small amount of Penguins fans that have a box.  Maybe only one or two people attending a public viewing have one of those boxes.

The funny thing is that the people outside of the arena have no place to go, nor can they change the channel during the game’s commercial breaks.  They have to watch whatever is on TV.  Isn’t that what NBC wants?  Wake up NBC – you should be sponsoring these “watch parties.”  Verses just picked up the viewers you should have had.  I guess NBC doesn’t have bigger fish to fry…

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  1. Leo Nevoli says:

    I also found out that Detroit tried doing a viewing event tonight at their arena, since the Red Wings are winning 3-2. NBC said no, so Detroit made plans to show the CBC (Canada Broadcasting Company) feed of the game since they receive Canadian channels, but the NHL said no to that, because even though Detroit is on the border and gets the Canada channel, they are based in the US.

  2. Jen says:

    Thanks for calling attention to this for me. I love the post and was so disappointed that I never had a chance to take my kids to the lawn party, where they would really feel what Pittsburgh is all about “hometown spirit” which is our city’s motto. It is such a shame NBC chose to be so selfish.

  3. I love to comment over here but I’m not sure I have much to add to the sports viewing discussion. I will say that the shows that “top
    the ratings” are not always to my taste!

  4. NeoConDon says:

    NBC desperately needs the ratings. They are losing them hand over fist, and that’s how they price their advertising. But many corporations do get lost and “jump over a dollar to save a dime.” NBC is owned by General Electric (a company I am boycotting forever)…so I don’t watch NBC. But, based on the way Immelt has run GE into the toilet, it’s no surprise that NBC is being managed poorly too.

  5. Leo Nevoli says:

    Another issue about ratings goes with bars and other places to eat. Not every bar is going to be filled to the max for certain games, NBC does not know just how many people are going to go eat out during the game, instead of staying at home to watch it. If someone with a rating box goes out to eat, they are not counted for that show.

  6. Extreme John says:

    What a pathetic move by NBC.

  7. I’m baaack! I had no idea that the number of Nielson boxes was as low as 5,000. But, you know networks and the ratings war. They will try any tactic, no matter how absurb.

  8. Nickle and diming never works. This is probably another reason NBC is at the bottom of the ratings game. They are not helping their cause.

  9. That’s pretty ridiculous and very short-sighted.

  10. Zig says:


  11. Zig says:

    The only viewers who matter are cheering for the REDWINGS! GO WINGS!

  12. NeoConDon says:

    For once, Zig is right…I mean correct…

  13. Timmy says:

    Don’t know if im too late to post on this or not, but the NBC has pulled the watch parties outside and inside arenas from both cities because of this reason


    “A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.”

    The ironic part is that the model can’t factor in that the 8-10 thousand people ARE watching your ads in the arenas, they just arent doing it from their living room.

    Stupid move on NBCs part to alienate more fans from a dying television sport. They lost most of the casual fans a few years ago with the strike. I dont watch regular season hockey, but playoff hockey is fast paced, tense and exciting and the only place you can find it anymore is on a channel that was formerly the outdoor life network.


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