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Sandy takes down Nielsen

October 30, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Hurricane Sandy has New York shut down
Hurricane Sandy has New York shut down (EPA )

Television ratings service Nielsen said Monday's numbers will be delayed because of super storm Sandy.

That was to be expected. Not only is Nielsen based in the East Village of New York City, one of the area's hardest hit by weather and power outages, the number of local East Coast television stations preempting network programming for storm coverage will make it incredibly difficult to figure out who was watching what. Nielsen hopes to release numbers later Tuesday. Fortunately for Nielsen, much of its actual number crunching is done in Florida.

Most network affiliates in areas hit by the storm, including TV stations in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., opted to run their own news programs during much of Monday. Also, CBS and the CW Network both scrapped their programming plans in favor of primarily reruns. Neither network wanted to waste new episodes of shows when much of the country would not be able to watch.

Nielsen typically issues multiple ratings reports to the networks every day. The first is what is known as the "fast nationals," which are preliminary estimates of the previous night's programs and released early in the morning. Later in the day, Nielsen releases final daily numbers.

The high number of preemptions and power outages, however, will create more work for Nielsen in determining ratings for Monday.

Nielsen has not said how long it will take for numbers to be available but under the circumstances the odds are the TV industry and advertisers will take any Monday numbers with a big grain of salt. Many stations are still preempting network programming Tuesday as New York City and other areas try to emerge from the storm.

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 Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.

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