I had a feeling something was off with TNA President Dixie Carter's desperate plea on Facebook for all TNA fans to DVR Impact and watch it within 3 days, so that their viewership would be counted even if they're not in one of Nielsen Media Research's sample households. Before I said anything about the accuracy of her statement, I wanted to make sure that I checked with an expert in the field. I did, and I was right: Dixie Carter is an idiot who believes anything that she's told.
Nielsen only measures homes that they've picked to be in their sample pool (who get paid a small amount of money). The relatively new "DVR and watch within 3 days" rule only applies to people in the Nielsen sample. Those not in the sample (the vast majority of Americans) don't have any magic technology in their DVRs that's reported to Nielsen. TiVo, Moxi, cable and satellite companies, etc, aren't monitoring your viewing habits. Hell, think about how many people use computer-based DVR software like MythTV, Windows Media Center, SageTV, etc. Those sure as hell aren't reporting anything to anyone. There's a separate company trying to do DVR-based research, but even if you're in their sample, you're not in Nielsen's sample, so you're still not affecting anyone's ratings. To sum it up: If you're not getting a check from Nielsen and reporting to them using a diary and/or one of their People Meters, nothing you do will affect anyone's ratings.
It gets stupider. People involved with a TV show urging people to watch to boost the ratings (as opposed to a more generic encouragement to watch it) is the type of thing that massively pisses off Nielsen. Nielsen would specifically be pissed off at Spike TV, whose higher-ups would then get more pissed off with TNA than they are now after the fiasco that was the hiring of Hogan, Bischoff, et al and the aborted attempt at Monday Night Wars 2.0. Nielsen probably wouldn't take any action, like de-listing Spike from the ratings, over a minor cable show screwing up like this, but there aren't any real precedents to go by. It was a mind-bogglingly dumb thing to say, and it's a big enough TV industry taboo that it's you can't predict what will happen.
The big question here is who the heck told her to do this. There's absolutely no way that anyone at Spike TV did. If it was anyone in TNA, I could see it being Eric Bischoff, just because I could see him presenting himself as Mr. TV Expert, but he seems more TV-savvy than that. Most likely, she probably read something online as part of some "save our show" campaign (note how those are always fan-run and built around shows of support to supplement the ratings) and believed that it would be a good idea to post it on Facebook. There's always been plenty of misinformation about Nielsen ratings online and in the wrestling media: A common falsehood is that something on Monday Night Raw is being done to boost ratings during the "sweeps" ratings periods. These periods are used to determine local ad rates for for broadcast stations, NOT cable/satellite channels. The broadcast networks beef up the network shows to strengthen the local affiliate stations. Nobody's paying any special attention to a cable network's rating during sweeps. Any deliberate moves to beef up a cable network's ratings during sweeps are just counter-programming what the broadcast networks are doing.
Dixie Carter is the president of TNA and thought this would work. Not only won't it work, but it could get them in trouble with their already unhappy network by getting them in trouble with the one company that reports TV ratings. It's mind-boggling. At least this is a new type of stupidity and not something WCW did.