Should Oprah mind her OWN business?

After many years of bring the world into America’s living rooms, Oprah Winfrey has moved out into the world from her studio. “We’re not on those chairs anymore” she says in the commercials hyping her OWN Network. Plus she’s got an all star cast to back her up with a roster of semi reality TV confessional human interest type programming. She’s backed up by a supporting cast including Dr Phil, Dr Oz, Gayle King and even Shania Twain. Yet there are rumours that OWN ain’t doing so good.

Maybe that’s why Oprah took to the tweet lately – during the Grammy Awards in fact – in what was apparently and attempt to hype up her network! Oprah has about 9 million followers. At her peak anything she “liked” got an immediate boost, from bedsheets to bogus rehab biographies. So it seemed like a safe bet that the faithful might answer the call. So she sent forth the word – “Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if you have a Nielsen box“.

No one likes awards shows. They’re kind of like the high school prom on steroids. Besides people like Oprah. So it should’ve worked out nifty. Yet Oprah got some blow back out of her guerrilla marketing tactics. For instance the me has been called “desperate” and “unethical”.

Oprah take some exception to that. For one thing she insists that “‘desperate’ not ever a part of my vocab“. Twitter seems to have taken many words out of our vocabularies. For another she also considers ‘unethical’ to be a ‘bit harsh’. Oprah’s tweet got taken down a little while later. However another Own related tweet – “Commercial Grammy people.. u can turn to OWN”.

Whether it’s unethical or not it’s technically over the line. Nielsen forbids networks (& Oprah owns OWNS) to hype up their shows specifically to Nielsen box holders. Direct appeals to box holders to change their viewing habits can throw off the results. That would defeat the purpose of market research. For instance 80% of box holders might be watching a show because they were specifically singled out. Meanwhile the rest of the nation might be watching the new reality TV series. That would make the ratings meaningless. Advertising rates are based on ratings. So Nielsen frowns on the practice. “In accordance with our policies, Nielsen is reviewing this with our clients and may withhold, breakout and/or make a note in the ratings,” a Nielsen rep told EW. The rep went on to say that “We take any violation of our policy seriously”.

So how did it end up? Oprah took down the tweet. Then she made an apology. She released a statement saying “I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen. I intended no harm and apologize for the reference.” As for the Grammy’s they bagged 39.9 million viewers. So no harm no foul. IN fact thew hole incident was as harmless as Justin Timberlake‘s attempts to revitalize Myspace (He’s taking his Social Network role way too seriously). The Grammy’s are usually a pretty good draw. Now if it had been something like the Sream Awards then there might have been more cause for concern. Harold & Kumar need as much support as they can get!

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