For the second time in less than a month, Nielsen is reprocessing ratings data for the Boston DMA after again underreporting viewing of Hearst-Argyle’s WCVB-TV (Ch. 5, ABC). The problem has been blamed on an encoder malfunction coupled with a monitoring site failure. As you can imagine, WCVB President and GM Bill Fine is not a happy Nielsen subscriber. "Today, I can repeat and paraphrase my recent observation regarding NSI’s major corrections to ratings on WCVB, of three Patriots/ESPN simulcast games. It turns out the ratings of WCVB in early January, that were unbelievable are, in fact, not to be believed," Fine said in a statement Friday. A WCVB spokeswoman told TVBR the station does not yet know what the financial fallout is, if any, from the ratings error.
Nielsen sent clients for the Boston ratings data a notice that it will issue reprocessed ratings for WCVB and WMUR-TV (Ch. 9, ABC) Manchester, NH for January 1-9. A software error is being blamed for causing the WCVB encoder’s internal clock to jump ahead 23 hours on New Year’s Day. Nielsen VP Gary Holmes told TVBR the company was not aware of any similar problem with any other station’s encoder. At the same time, Nielsen was experiencing problems with its Media Monitoring Site in the Boston market. The two problems combined to credit much of the viewing of WCVB to WMUR, due to ABC having two affiliates in the Boston DMA. Both, by the way, are owned by Hearst-Argyle Television.
Nielsen says the encoder clock problem was fixed with a software download. Holmes said there have been only a handful of problems with either encoders or monitoring sites in various markets.