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Are Nielsens miscounting black viewers?

Moonves questions sharp drop in ratings of UPN programs
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

CBS president Leslie Moonves on Wednesday questioned whether Nielsen Media Research was properly gauging the black viewership of UPN, the urban-oriented network he also oversees.

While hailing UPN for ratings gains among young women, Moonves wondered whether its flat adults 18-34 and 18-49 numbers were attributable to a startling drop reported by Nielsen for six urban-skewing sitcoms.

“We are questioning those numbers and looking if the sampling is right in those viewers,” Moonves, the co-president and co-chief operating officer of CBS and UPN’s Viacom Inc. parent, said during UPN’s portion of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “So I think that is affecting us.”

UPN also announced that its hit series “America’s Next Top Model” will return for two more seasons after its fourth cycle, which is scheduled to debut March 2.

Citing freshman success stories “Kevin Hill” and “Veronica Mars,” both Moonves and UPN entertainment president Dawn Ostroff touted the maturation of UPN into a haven for quality programming that attracts top-drawer talent. The network now skews 56 percent female — up from 47 percent three years ago — fulfilling the gender orientation it guaranteed to advertisers last May.

While careful not to seem too critical of Nielsen (owned by The Hollywood Reporter parent company VNU), Moonves expressed frustration with the sudden decline of UPN’s entire Monday lineup, including sitcoms “Half & Half” and “Second Time Around,” which was benched because of poor ratings, and its Tuesday 8-9 p.m. block.

“If we had duplicated what we had done a year ago, our numbers would be up significantly,” Moonves said. “In all my years doing network television, I have never seen a group of shows like this come down double digits.”

Moonves also suggested a Nielsen irregularity might be responsible for depressed ratings for the ABC sitcom “My Wife and Kids” as well as CBS’ daytime lineup.

In other UPN series news, the midseason comedy “Cuts” will premiere at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 14. Still waiting for debut dates are “Bad Girls’ Guide,” which is slated for spring, and “R U the Girl With T-Boz & Chilli,” slated for summer.