Oprah's desperate call for OWN viewers lands her in Nielsen rating trouble

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 14:25
winfreyoprah021512_optBY ANGELA DAIDONE

It's hard to imagine Oprah Winfrey having to appeal to audiences to watch her show.

But that's exactly what the former Queen of daytime did when she asked readers via her Twitter account to view OWN, the network she created after ending her popular talk show, EW.com reported.

"Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Nielsen box," she tweeted Sunday evening at the start of 'Oprah's Next Chapter' and the mega-rated Grammy telecast. She later added, "Commercial Grammy people… u can turn to OWN."

The move, which some readers have called "desperate" and "begging for viewers" received backlash from Winfrey's Twitter followers and scrutiny from Nielsen, which reports and measures viewer ratings.

Winfrey has since removed the original post and tweeted that she did so at the request of Nielsen, adding that she "intended no harm."

Incidences of outright solicitation of viewers are rare, but Nielsen takes them seriously. Last November, late-night host Jimmy Fallon said he wanted to "Occupy Nielsen" and told viewers that they didn't have to even watch his show, just put it on, in a kidding attempt to get higher ratings.

The following week, Nielsen excluded Fallon's show completely from its rating report.

As far as Winfrey is concerned, an asterisk will be attached to OWN’s ratings at the time of day her message was sent, noting a “possible biasing effect,” a Nielsen spokesman told the New York Times.