Oprah Winfrey took to Twitter last night to ask Nielsen viewers to watch her cable network OWN instead of the Grammy Awards, a pathetic move that drew criticism from her OWN followers and the market research company alike.
“Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Nielsen box,” she tweeted Sunday at the start Oprah’s Next Chapter and the mega-rated Grammys.
She later added, “Commercial Grammy people... u can turn to OWN.”
The tweets caused a backlash on the social networking site, with some readers - fans of O, no less - accusing her of “begging for viewers” and being “desperate.”
Oprah followed up with a flurry of defensive replies that were apparently in response to reader criticism: “The word ‘please’ is used as courtesy not a beg."
"'Desperate’ not ever a part of my vocabulary" … "'Unethical' us a little harsh don’t u think? Seemed like it made sense to me. Sorry if you’re offended.”
The original tweet has since been deleted.Networks are not allowed to specifically target Nielsen subscribers. Policy prohibits “attempts to single out panel members … to change their viewing habits.”
“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.
“We take any violation of our policy seriously.”
Given that 39.9 million people watched the 2012 Grammys, a more effective punishment might be simply releasing OWN’s miniscule ratings instead.
Oprah Winfrey has since released this statement: “I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen. I intended no harm and apologize for the reference.”