LOS ANGELES -- UPN has seen a sharp ratings drop for its six comedies that appeal largely to blacks and isn't sure whether that reflects a change in their popularity or how viewers are counted.
Five of the six comedies, which air on Monday or Tuesday nights, have seen viewership go down by at least 10 percent since last year, according to
The single exception: "One on One," which has benefited from a move to a more desirable Monday time slot. Still, that show's audience is 11 percent lower than "The Parkers," which aired in its same time slot last season.
"In all my years doing network television, I've never seen a group of six shows come down in a group like this," said
None of the comedies are yet threatened by cancellation. But in the TV business, lower ratings mean lower advertising revenue, and network executives rarely have much patience for that.
CBS researchers suspect a change in Nielsen's methodology is to blame. The company has changed its pool of participating families to label more citizens of Caribbean island descent as black. They're primarily Spanish-speaking and often have different viewing habits than American-born blacks, said David Poltrack, CBS' top researcher.
"The composition of black viewers in the Nielsen sample has changed," he said. "I'm not saying it's right or wrong. It's different."
Nielsen has been under fire from some blacks and Latinos in the past year for changing to a new electronic system for counting viewers in big cities. Some critics contend this will undercount minority viewers.
A Nielsen spokesman, Jack Loftus, said there may be something to Poltrack's theory. But he noted that Nielsen's numbers have not reflected a change in overall television viewing among blacks.
'American Idol' opens smashingly
The fourth-edition debut of Fox's "American Idol" on Tuesday night smashed all of this season's viewing records. It was the singing competition's biggest opening night -- putting the kibosh on all that speculation that reality TV is on the wane.
Nearly 34 million viewers caught the two-hour show -- only 4 million short of the most watched "Idol" episode ever, the second-edition finale in May 2003, when Ruben Studdard beat Clay Aiken.
It was, in fact, the most watched TV broadcast since the "Friends" finale in May and the most watched season debut since that of "Friends" in 2002.
The "Idol" debut also was Fox's third-most watched night of entertainment programming, behind the show's second-season finale and the wrap of the first "Joe Millionaire," which riveted a whopping 40 million people in the February ratings sweeps of 2003.
With its all-"Idol" prime time, Fox clocked more viewers on Tuesday than CBS, NBC, ABC, WB and UPN combined.
The "Idol" rebound surprised Hollywood, including Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman, who two days earlier told critics to expect smaller numbers for this edition of the hit series. That made sense, given that last year's "Idol," won by Fantasia Barrino, had not done quite as well as the second edition.
Asked her take on the show's bounce back, Berman said, "I can only say it's the people's show," adding, "I know that sounds corny."
Early Grammy performers named
The performers on this year's Grammy Awards -- set for Feb. 13 on CBS -- will include U2, Tim McGraw, Alicia Keys, and Green Day. They're the first to be announced. Queen Latifah will host the broadcast and appearing as presenters will be Ellen DeGeneres, Christina Milian, and John Travolta.
Globe on NECN
Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:
12:30 p.m.: "Globe at Home" -- Tina Sutton, who covers fashion for the Boston Globe Magazine, discusses cozy blazers for men and free-spirited frocks for women.
4 p.m.: "Around the Globe"
6:30 p.m.: "New England Business Day"
8: p.m.: "NewsNight"
Schedule is subject to change.
9 a.m. WUMB-FM (91.9) -- "Guest Mix." Guest: Michael Dinallo, Boston songwriter and guitarist.
4 p.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 1; Woodcock's Oboe Concerto No. 12; Benda's Sinfonia No. 7.