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Nielsen Study Finds Uncounted Viewers Watching TV at Work, In Bars

May 9, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ A three-network hunt for uncounted viewers has found that a suprising number of them watch TV at work, according to an A.C. Nielsen Co. study released Wednesday by ABC.

The national study estimated that more than 1 million viewers age 12 and older are watching TV in prime time and on weekend afternoons, but aren’t counted by current rating systems because they’re not watching at home.

The one-week study, made in November and conducted among 4,196 people, was sponsored by NBC, Nielsen, ABC and cable’s ESPN sports channel, in which ABC owns a majority interest. About 53 percent of the 4,196 actually completed the television viewing diaries used in the study, ABC said.

ABC Research Vice President Richard Montesano said the study did not provide a margin of error, but that it was ″highly reliable.″

The highest number of those who completed the diaries, 36 percent, watch TV at work, the study said, with 21 percent viewing in hotels and motels.

Sixteen percent watch in bars and restaurants, 9 percent in second homes and 15 percent in ″other places.″

The study found that viewing was heaviest in hotels and motels during the early morning, in prime time and late at night. TV watching in bars and restaurants occurred most often in prime time and late evening.

The Nielsen company, whose ratings represent 92.1 million homes with televisions, doesn’t count viewers in such places as bars, hotels or college dormitories.

″These findings reinforce the need for improved measurement methods that accurately reflect how viewers really use television today in today’s media environment,″ ABC research chief Alan Wurtzel said in a statement.

The search for uncounted viewers comes at a time the major networks have been losing viewers to cable television, independent stations and to the unofficial Fox network of 129 stations.

CBS, NBC and ABC, which once had a 90 percent share of the national viewing audience, last season had a combined audience share of 65 percent.

CBS contends that Nielsen’s methods of audience estimates may be largely responsible for last season’s decline, which was down 4 percent from the 1988-89 season.

Nielsen officials say they have no evidence to show that CBS is correct.

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