Trib Total Media TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions every Wednesday at TribLive.com in a column that also appears in the Sunday Tribune-Review.
Q: I haven’t seen Josh Taylor on weekend sports on Channel 2 or heard him on 93.7 The Fan in a while. Where has he been?
– Gary, Pittsburgh
Rob: Each year after football ends, the first quarter is a slow time for sports. Taylor was expected back on KDKA-TV this past weekend.
“It was a change in the schedule based on the season at both stations, but I’ll be back on the air in May,” Taylor said. “In the meantime, I’ve been spending more time at home with my son (13 months old) and finishing up a book project that I’m collaborating on with David Finoli.”
Q: Do you think Channel 4 will move Ryan Recker to evening sports permanently now that Guy Junker has retired? He has experience in covering sports and the morning news seems much less crowded with two main anchors. Maybe this was the plan all along?
– Beth, McCandless
Rob: Anything is possible but I don’t think that is the intent.
WTAE general manager Charles Wolfertz did not respond to Beth’s question, but it appears the station will hire from outside. My understanding is Channel 4 has auditioned three women for the sports anchor job.
Q: Without notice, Verizon removed the Science Channel from my FiOS TV package. After a back and forth with Verizon support, they tried to upsell me to a mix and match plan at $ 70 more a month. I was told Discovery recently gave them the ability to move the Science channel to other packages. What is going on?
– James, via email
Rob: There is fine print in the contracts every cable / satellite customer signs that allows the company to change the channels in your package at any time.
Per Verizon: “Content costs are the single biggest factor in higher TV bills, and there are times we may move channels between packages to keep prices affordable for our customers. Customers received a notification about this channel change prior to it being implemented both in their bill and via the Fios TV message center. ”
A representative for Discovery-owned Science Channel did not provide a response by deadline.
Q: I leave the cable box (Comcast) on around-the-clock thinking, rightly or wrongly, that the DVR won’t record. But I turn the TV on and off. Does the channel that the cable box is on when the TV is off count toward viewed programs? Since everything is tracked, I assume that it does and is incorrectly inflating the ratings. I’m really not watching infomercials, I promise you.
– John, North Huntingdon
Rob: Ratings are only gathered by Nielsen and those who have been recruited by Nielsen so this has nothing to do with ratings unless John is part of Nielsen’s panel.
That said, he’s right that Comcast is aware of what is being watched, but Comcast says its data collection “is based on viewed programs,” so I think there’s a way the system can distinguish.
As for Nielsen, the company is able to correct for the scenario John describes, saying, “Nielsen measures people, not devices. Our audience measurement solutions are based on known viewing rooted in our people-powered panels that accurately represent all household types, distribution methods and geographies. For example, many set-top boxes are not turned off, even though the TV set is off and no one is watching. Without correction, this would artificially inflate tuning levels and thus audience estimates. Analysis… shows that without correction, tuning minutes would be invalidly over-indexed by approximately 145% to 260%, depending on the provider. ”