Desperate times: Oprah begs her Twitter followers with a Nielsen box to tune into OWN in botched attempt to boost ratings
The media mogul, competing for viewership with Sunday evening’s Grammy Awards, took to the micro-blogging website to ask her 9.2million followers: ‘Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Nielsen box.’
The tweet was deleted, Ms Winfrey said, ‘at the request of Nielsen’, which prohibits clients from attempting to influence ratings.
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Under fire: Oprah Winfrey asked her 9.2million Twitter followers to tune into OWN, ‘especially if u have a Nielsen box’
A backlash of comments followed, with several Twitter users accusing the mogul of ‘being desperate’.
Ms Winfrey dismissed the criticism in a series of tweets writing: ‘The word “please” issued as courtesy not a beg… “desperate” not ever part of my vocab.’
‘unethical a little harsh don’t u think? Seemed like it made sense to me. Sorry if u’re offended,’ she added in another.
A spokesman from Nielsen told EW the company is reviewing the incident and that it ‘may withhold, breakout and/or make a note in the ratings.’
‘We take any violation of our policy seriously and will work with clients to resolve the situation,’ the Nielsen spokesman said.
At the time of the tweet, an episode of ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ was airing, featuring Ms Winfrey visiting the home of a Hasidic Jewish family that had never watched television.
Against policy: The tweet has prompted Nielsen to asterisk OWN’s ratings at the approximate time it was sent out to account for possible bias
The television mogul apologised after the inappropriate nature of the tweet was brought to her attention.
‘I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen, I intended no harm and apologize for the reference,’ she said.
Ms Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Network in January 2011 – eight months before ending her daytime talk show – with a slate of programming she described as ‘uplifting.’
But since then the cable channel has struggled to find its feet.
Discovery Communications, Ms Winfrey’s partner in the venture, injected $250million into launching the new channel; but it has since been rocked by weak ratings and internal shifts.
Ms Winfrey took over as CEO in July to refocus the channel’s direction and put more of herself on screen, after Discovery CEO David Zaslav warned her that she needed to be more hands on.
Back on camera: At the time of the tweet, an episode of ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ was airing, which showed Ms Winfrey visiting a Hasidic Jewish family
‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’ follows the October debut of ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass’, in which she shared insights, life lessons and old clips from her 25-year talk show run.
But so far, nothing – even her return in front of the cameras – has seemed to help the struggling network.
Rosie O’Donnell’s show, which was introduced with great fanfare in October, debuted with 497,000.
But the ratings have since plummeted to less than 200,000 per episode.
Adding to the problems, Oprah’s best friend Gayle King is leaving the network and moving to CBS where she will co-host The Early Show.