Syndie Ratings Reveal Katrina's Influence

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Hurricane Katrina did away with any semblance of normalcy for syndicated shows in Nielsen’s national ratings during week ended Sept. 4, Labor Day weekend.

With scores of storm-related preemptions during the week, coupled with the holiday weekend, most shows posted big declines. Coverage levels reflected on the Nielsen chart were also misleading, as many syndicated shows got shifted to the wee hours.

For instance, King World’s Jeopardy!, which normally finishes second, dropped to sixth place thanks to news overruns, leaving the syndicator’s Oprah in second place with a 5.5 rating for the week. And King World’s top-rated Wheel of Fortune only counted Tuesday through Thursday in its week-long average.

The national numbers were released a day after Nielsen informed clients that the impact of the hurricane on intab rates was not significant, dropping only 1% Aug. 29 and Sept. 1, and returning to pre-hurricane levels (92% nationally) since then.

Nielsen reflected the impact Katrina caused in New Orleans, noting in a memo to clients that of the 44 national people meter homes there, a total of 41 reported on Aug. 24. That decreased to only one on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

There will be no October local measurement for the market, with Nielsen set to determine whether data for November will be available in New Orleans or hard-hit Biloxi, Miss. Nielsen said the full extent of permanent damage in the zone won’t be known for eight months, following the next update to U.S. Census figures.

Miami was also impacted by the hurricane’s first strike. With the 104 homes in the market, the national sample margin fell from 94 on Aug. 24 to 26 two days later. By Sept. 7, the intab rate for national people meter homes in Miami had returned to 86.5%, about on par with 90.4% prior to the storm.

In terms of cable ratings, which are calculated monthly based on national installed sample counts and individual cable networks’ access to homes, no calculation modifications are planned now.

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