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From Springfieldnewssun.com

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Neilsen to TV Networks : Don’t Blame Us

By David Bauder

Thursday 27 November 2003, by Webmaster

Nielsen to TV Networks: Don’t Blame Us
AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP)—The company that measures television usage has a message for the broadcast networks: Don’t blame us for pointing out that young male viewers are fleeing.

Nielsen Media Research released a report late Monday strongly defending itself against complaints by the networks that its research is faulty.

Through mid-November, Nielsen has said that prime-time TV viewing by men aged 18 to 34 is down nearly 8 percent this fall compared to autumn 2002.

That statistic has baffled and infuriated the major broadcast networks, particularly since the young male audience is elusive and advertisers pay a premium to reach it.

Nielsen said that it has checked its numbers, and checked again, and believes them to be accurate. Young men are turning on TV in the same numbers as past years, but are staying for a much shorter time, Nielsen said.

Among men aged 18 to 24, use of DVDs, VCRs and video games has increased by 9 percent this year, Nielsen said.

The viewership decline is part of a long-term trend for the networks, and may be accentuated this year because there were slight increases the past few years, Nielsen said.

The company believes that its sample of ``Nielsen families’’ is better than in past years and is even representative of young men who have moved back home with their parents. Networks grumble that these young men are less reliable than heads of household in reporting to Nielsen what they watch.

Nielsen dismissed a theory by NBC’s chief researcher that an increased number of Hispanic viewers who have proved unreliable in reporting their TV usage is a big part of the decline.

Nielsen said young male viewership has decreased, on average, by 4 1/2 minutes a night; Hispanic changes accounted for five seconds of this decline.

Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s chief researcher, had not finished reading Nielsen’s report late Monday and would not comment on it.

``Historically, we have never seen these kind of declines except where there is a problem with the sample,’’ he said earlier.