When is the Nightly News the Nitely News? When ratings are lousy.
You might be forgiven for thinking NBC has but one flagship evening newscast, the NBC Nightly News, honchoed by Lester Holt. But the network has another show, one that looks for all intents and purposes just like its Nightly News, but titled instead the NBC Nitely News. What—has the network left it to the interns to enter the show’s name in the Chyron machine?
No, it seems that the misspelling is reserved solely for filing logs with ratings tabulator Nielsen. The Nightly News is in a battle with ABC’s World News Tonight (hmmm, or is that World News Tonite?). On some nites when its news program gets low ratings, NBC has been labeling its show for the Nielsen folks as the Nitely News. On nights when a sufficient number of viewers show up, the program is reported as the Nightly News. By weeding out the bad nites, NBC overcounts, for its ratings scorecard, the percentage of nights with winning performances.
This news comes by way of the indefatigable Lisa de Moraes at Deadline Hollywood, whose coverage of the TV biz is must-reading. She notes that other networks have played the same game, with CBS retitling Face the Nation on occasion in 2016 and ABC renaming Good Morning America for a week in 2011. As for the current titling shenanigans, NBC explained to de Moraes that sports preemptions necessitated the name changes—even on some nites when there were no sports preemptions.
Speaking of sports: How many baseball players would like to have their batting averages calculated in a similar fashion? The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman may be leading the majors (as The Scrapbook writes) with a .367 average. But just imagine the numbers he could be putting up if his strikeouts were attributed to some Zimermann guy.
This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard