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Nielsen Defines Cable Networks, OKs Nick at Nite

Nielsen Media Research has issued a clarification of its policies for measuring and defining cable networks, and Nick at Nite fits the bill, according to the ratings service.

Nielsen put out the client clarification at the request of cable programmers, including the ABC Cable Networks Group and Lifetime Television, which voiced concern about primetime ratings now being issued for Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon’s adult sitcom block that airs during just part of primetime.

A Nielsen spokeswoman Monday that under its own criteria, Nick at Nite qualifies as a network, as would any other cable service that meets the requirements set forth.

According to Nielsen’s client memo, "To qualify for syndicated measurement by Nielsen Media Research, a cable network must regularly telecast contiguous periods of programming amounting collectively to at least 15 hours of programming each week" for at least a quarterly measurement period.

"Nick at Nite clearly falls within this definition of a cable network, which is what we’ve maintained all along," a Nick spokesman said.

The ratings company also issued some guides regarding how "total day" is defined for measurement purposes, saying that cable networks can determine their own definition, as long as it meets a few caveats.

"‘Total-day’ definitions must consist of single, contiguous periods of time each day, with consistent weekly patterns," Nielsen wrote its clients. "Whether or not a network decides to have a less than 24-hour ‘total day’ is up to them, meaning that they are not required to exclude paid programming from their ‘total day.’ A network may change its ‘total-day’ definition on a quarterly boundary."

Nielsen added in its memo that in its reports, it will now mark with an asterisk and footnote any network that does not program for a full daypart. Many cable networks run infomercials and, therefore, don’t program for all of total-day, for example.

Nielsen just started separating ratings for Nick and Nick at Nite at the request of MTV Networks.