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Young male ABC viewers vanish Tuesday in Washington

On Tuesday night in Washington, virtually every guy between the ages of 18 and 34 years who was watching ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and new Michael Imperioli cop drama "Detroit 1-8-7" suddenly vanished into thin air.

At nearly the same time, almost all of the chicks between the age of 18 and 34 watching "Detroit 1-8-7" in Washington also disappeared.

It's like an episode of "FlashForward." Only a really good one.

What fate befell all those promising young men and women in who were watching our ABC affiliate, WJLA Tuesday night during the broadcast TV network's Premiere Week, when they roll out most of their new primetime lineups?

ABC sure as heck wants to know, as does WJLA, because those "hash marks" -- the dreaded Nielsen symbol for "no reported viewing" -- are showing up in the age brackets that are the most coveted by advertisers in primetime.

They've put Nielsen on notice that it's got some splainin' to do.

"Overnight ratings for the station included instances of no reported viewing by men 18-34 for the last few quarter-hours of 'Dancing with the Stars' and for all of 'Detroit 1-8-7,' and no ratings for women 18-34 in the last three quarter-hours of 'Detroit 1-8-7.'," ABC said in a statement sent to The TV Column.

"It doesn't make sense to suddenly have hash marks. The ratings for the local late night news and for Kimmel appear to be impacted as well," the network added.

WJLA's general manager Bill Lord noted that "for the number of male viewers 18 to 34 on a new cop show to be zero is impossible -- especially given the fact that we are the No. 9 TV market and ["Detroit 1-8-7"] did a 3 rating in the demographic in other markets."

Nationally, Tuesday "Dancing with the Stars" was the franchises most watched results show debut -- ever. Nearly 19 million people tuned in to see David Hasseloff get the hook after just one dreadful dance. After that show wrapped, ABC's unveiling of gritty new "Detroit 1-8-7" attracted more than 9 million people.

We have not yet been able to reach Nielsen.

Charles Kennedy, senior vice president of research for ABC TV, says he's been in the biz for more than two decades and this is a head-scratcher of nearly epic proportions, because, he explains, he's not seeing any consistent flaw in the Washington numbers but, instead, "sporadic holes" in the ratings, extending even into Kimmel's late night show.

Even more disturbing, after seeing the mysterious Tuesday stats for Washington, Kennedy said he went back and looked at the numbers in our city for Monday night.

"I'm looking at a very odd number for 'Castle'," Kennedy says, ominously.

By Lisa de Moraes  | September 22, 2010; 7:39 PM ET
Categories:  Local TV  
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TV just isn't as good as it used to be. They were probably logging on to

Posted by: opsmgr | September 22, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps all the viewers just got lost. Don't ask Nielsen - ask the smoke monster.

Posted by: bloggersvilleusa | September 22, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

There were only ten guys between 18-34 gay enough to watch Dancing with the Stars - but they were all busy singing along with Glee.

Posted by: rah1962 | September 22, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but what if the numbes are wrong but not as easily noticable?

Posted by: blasmaic | September 22, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Probably both guys in their survey went out for a beer. Perhaps the sample size is just too small. Local market Nielsens are all smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 22, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I can't remember the last time I watched anything on WJLA after 8:00pm. The station is just one vast wasteland.

Posted by: NewEra | September 22, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

There was this giant fish thing, then O'Reilly, then wasn't there that new show where everything is told in flashback ~ I can see that's going to be a real winner ~ make me want to watch Dancing with Smurfs or whatever it's called.

I have the complete Soprano's collection ~

There's a reason for that.

Posted by: muawiyah | September 22, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Don't know about anyone else, but at some point during prime time we lost several network channels here in Arlington, other cable channels were fine, but no NBC, ABC or CBS. CBS was out for us again tonight.

Posted by: 10161980 | September 22, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I must admit that there is no entertainment programming on Channel 7 that I have any interest in watching. Content is very poor. (Though obviously there's some kind of computer error accounting for the near-zero ratings.)

Posted by: BlanketyBlank | September 23, 2010 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Bristol Palin appeared and the young men began hurling in the bathroom, ha ha.

Posted by: euroguy | September 23, 2010 5:01 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't everyone have better things to do than watch network TV? The only people left who watch tv at night are the staffs and patients at nursing homes.

Posted by: llrllr1 | September 23, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

maybe the shows really, really sucked...

Posted by: smm4c2000 | September 23, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

All network television is terrible. Along with Bravo, and like-minded cable stations. I'll stick with the DVD's I enjoy, much of it British.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 23, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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