If you’re wondering why it’s been a few days since you’ve seen a TV ratings story, it’s because a power outage at a Nielsen facility in Florida over the weekend crippled the company’s ability to process data all the way through Wednesday morning, so no one had access to numbers of any kind. It was bliss for network PR, agita-inducing for network researchers, and a very unpleasant four days for Nielsen, already a favorite punching bag for network heads.
The cause of the power outage at Nielsen’s facility in Oldsmar, Fla., remains mysterious as weather in that area early Sunday morning was clear. The outage didn’t affect the collection of data from the 40,000 Nielsen TV households across the country, merely the processing of the data, and Nielsen says the quality of the data wasn’t affected either.
Nielsen released a statement: “A power outage at our Oldsmar Data Center impacted the availability of some Nielsen applications and the planned delivery of some Nielsen data for Sunday, March 12th and Monday March 13th. We are actively working to resolve the issue and will continue to provide clients with updates as more information becomes available.”
CBS exec VP of communications Chris Ender took a measured approach on Twitter:
#LifeWithoutRatings…Day3…still no overnights…sun rises…stock market doesn't crash…everyone still filling out brackets.
— Chris Ender (@soundbyte53) March 15, 2017
It’s true: For all the pearl-clutching about not being able to discuss the ratings for the “This Is Us” finale, the world managed to spin on for four days, even with the promise of a delay in the ratings for Rachel Maddow’s big reveal of two pages of President Trump’s 2005 tax returns and Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” Ad agency research sources shrugged off the delay as well — the vast majority of their deals with networks are based on C3 and C7 data, which measure commercial deliveries for episodes within three and seven days and typically take a week or so extra to process (three weeks at the start of the TV season).
Nielsen’s power problem was solved Wednesday morning, and preliminary Saturday numbers came out. However, due to the backlog, the ratings for Sunday through Tuesday evening will dribble out at a currently unknown pace. That means we won’t know for a while how “This Is Us” fared in its final outing for Season 1, or the average audience for “The Bachelor” finale Monday, or how “American Crime” did in its Season 3 premiere.
Here’s what we’ve got so far:
Saturday, March 11
The typical Saturday night wasteland was topped, at least in the metered market overnights, by the Scarlett Johansson-hosted “SNL” (with musical guest Lorde). The episode drew a 4.8 household rating in the top 56 markets, with a 2.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic in the 25 markets with local people meters. While below some of the other episodes this season, Saturday’s outing was still up about 20% from the previous year.
CBS’ “Ransom” drew a 0.4 rating in the demo and an average audience of 2.51 million, in Nielsen’s preliminary fast national numbers.
We’ll update this story as the numbers roll in.