If it wasn’t for those wacky upward adjustments ABC primetime series’ fast nationals had been getting this fall, who knows if Nielsen’s processing error would’ve been discovered? After keeping mum on the controversy for weeks, the ratings measuring giant publicly admitted Friday that a glitch had been inflating ABC’s Live+Same Day ratings and that the software problem actually had been skewing the network’s numbers since March. As a result, revised Live+SD ratings were released today for ABC’s Premiere Week performance.
While the blunder is a big blow to the reputation of Nielsen, already seriously challenged by upstart media measurement companies. Thankfully for ABC, the revisions reduced its averages but didn’t change the narrative, with the network’s position in primetime, late-night as well as the morning program and evening newscast races unchanged.
ABC still finished No. 3 for Premiere Week among adults 18-49, with its average slipping a tenth from a 2.2 to a 2.1. The other three networks, all boosted by football, drew a 3.0 (NBC), 2.4 (CBS) and 2.0 (Fox).
The crazy three-tenth and two-tenth adjustments, including for low-profile new series, are gone. Originally, of the 18 ABC primetime programs that aired during premiere week, all but two had their fast nationals adjusted — all upward — with two adjustments of .3 and four of .2.
In the revised ratings, only five ABC series received upward adjustments — .1 for all — the usual suspects Modern Family (3.8), Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2.0), Once Upon a Time (3.5), Grey’s Anatomy (3.1) and The Goldbergs (2.4). What’s more, two series, Nashville (1.4) and Revenge (1.3), were adjusted down a tenth, the first time an ABC series has received a downward adjustment this fall.
Ultimately, only four ABC programs, Black-ish (3.3),The Goldbergs (2.4), Grey’s Anatomy (3.1) and 20/20 (1.6) were able to keep their original Premiere Week Live+Same Day 18-49 ratings. All other series were revised down.
While the margin of victory for World News Tonight With David Muir slimmed down from 191,000 to 79,000, ABC’s evening newscast (1.9 million in adults 25-54) still edged NBC Nightly News for its first premiere week win in the core news demo in seven years. (In total viewers, NBC Nightly News was No. 1 even with the inflated ABC numbers).
Similarly, Good Morning America, which had ranked No. 1 in all major ratings category based on the old numbers, did the same with the revised ones, just by smaller margins. Its averages were adjusted down: 5.531 million total viewers vs. 5.677, 2.105 million adults 25-54 vs. 2.168 million and 1.461 million adults 18-49 vs. 1.523 million. Its nearest competitor, NBC’s Today, averaged 4.425 million, 1.731 million and 1.398 million, respectively.
And in late night, Jimmy Kimmel Live still logged its biggest-ever opening-week audience (2.762 million) and second-highest in seven years with adults 18-49 (836,000). It still edged NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Premiere Week Thursday by 19% in Total Viewers (4.045 million vs. 3.405 million) and by 13% in Adults 18-49 (1.275 million vs. 1.129 million). The previously reported margins of victory were 22% and 15%, respectively.