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The Man Who Took on Nielsen

March 25, 2013

It’s about 9 p.m. New York time, and Jon Mandel is in Seattle, on the phone, telling a story about the story the Nielsen ratings weren’t telling.

“It was Danny Abraham,” he says, speaking about billionaire Slim-Fast magnate S. Daniel Abraham. “I was presenting a buy—I’ll never forget this—it was a daytime network buy,” Mandel says, rapidly shifting into high gear. “It was ABC, CBS and NBC. What are they trying to do? They’re trying to reach young women. NBC was more expensive, but it made sense because it was women 18-49. But Danny always looked at the unit cost.”

Mandel pauses for breath. “I w

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