Oprah Winfrey might be ranked by Forbes as the 14th most powerful woman, but even she is having trouble promoting her latest business venture.
On Sunday, Winfrey sent a message to her Twitter followers, asking fans with Nielsen boxes to tune into her new television network called OWN, The Wrap reported.
“Every 1 who can please turn to OWN especially if u have a Neilsen box,” she said from her Twitter account. But the tweet was soon deleted.
“I removed the tweet at the request of Nielsen,” Winfrey told the New York Times. “I intended no harm and apologize for the reference.”
There are about 25,000 families with Nielsen boxes whose television viewing habits determine the Nielsen ratings list for television, The Wrap said.
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Television channels that want to top the rankings lists often put major plot twists midseason to attract more viewers.
But it's against Nielsen rules to directly influence viewers. An asterisk will be attached to OWN’s ranking on the list noting a “possible biasing effect,” a Nielsen spokesman told the Times.
"You can give away cars to everyone in your studio audience to get people to watch your show. You just can't ask people with Nielsen boxes to watch it," The Wrap said, criticizing Nielsen's rules.
Winfrey is not the first major television personality to break Nielsen rules. Last year, Jimmy Fallon was excluded from the Nielsen ratings for instructing his fans to "Occupy Nielsen," the Times said.
While many fans came to Winfrey's defense, others criticized her pleas for viewership. One Twitter follower told Winfrey that her tweet was "tacky and unethical."
"Unethical a little harsh don't u think? Seemed like it made sense to me," Winfrey responded. "Sorry if u're offended."