Here’s How to Get Better TV Ratings Without the Hassle of Getting More Viewers

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If you want better ratings for your nightly news program, the logical approach is to attract more viewers with a better product. But that’s hard. An alternative is to figure out a way to have Nielsen ignore your broadcasts on days when viewership is low. But how? The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a game largely sanctioned by TV-ratings firm Nielsen, television networks try to hide their shows’ poor performances on any given night by forgetting how to spell. That explains the appearance of “NBC Nitely News,” which apparently aired on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend this year, when a lot of people were away from their TVs….Hiding the May 26 program from Nielsen dramatically improved the show’s average viewership that week.

….The network needn’t feel defensive. ABC took its own ratings mulligan seven times during the 2016-17 season with “Wrld New Tonite.” CBS misspelled “The CBS Evening News” as the “CBS Evening Nws” 12 times this season.

Nielsen may wink at this, but do advertisers? TV execs say the inflated numbers are used only for “publicity purposes,” but apparently that’s not quite true:

“Networks never used to do this,” said Billie Gold, director of programming at ad giant Dentsu Inc. Now, she said, it has become the norm….Ms. Gold and other ad executives say they are frustrated with the detective work required to kick the tires on network viewer ratings. She said her clients are surprised by the difference between the number of eyeballs the networks claim and Ms. Gold’s tally, which accounts for the altered titles.

I wonder if there’s something similar that bloggers can do to game their numbers? Hmmm.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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