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Snowstorm Boosts TV Ratings

Nickelodeon, Bravo and MTV are among the channels that saw double-digit viewership increases earlier this month.

New York City's massive snowstorm may have snarled traffic, closed down buses and led to some productions shuttering.

But the good news? TV viewership will likely be up.

Case in point: According to Nielsen numbers, viewership across the country increased by 8 percent during the Jan. 10-13 snowstorm that blanketed the South. Nielsen said that storm had a bigger impact on TV ratings than any other in recent history, according to the Associated Press.

"The reason it was historic was because the storm spread as broadly as it did," said Pat McDonough, Nielsen's senior vice president for insight and analysis.

Among children 2 to 11, many of whom were home from school due to the storm, viewership increased by 10 percent. Among teens, it was up 15 percent. To capitalize on that, Nickelodeon cut its preschool programming block by two hours to air more teen-friendly shows like iCarly, spokesman Dan Martinsen said.

As a result, the net saw a 43 percent ratings increase over the year before, with its average audience increasing from 1.9 million to 2.4 million. For the Disney Channel, the audience rose from 1.3 million to 1.6 million, Nielsen said.

The Weather Channel's audience was up 62 percent on Monday, Jan. 10. The next day, its website had its fourth highest traffic day in history, spokeswoman Shirley Powell told the AP.

(The channel has pre-empted programming on 17 of 26 days of this month, and focused on storm coverage for 25 days in December, the spokesperson added.)

MTV's ratings were up 32 percent during the earlier January storm, and BET saw an boost from 368,000 to 679,000 on Monday, Jan. 10.

Bravo ratings were also up 60 percent, and Syfy's 42 percent. People were also likely plotting their way out of the snow: viewership was up 57 percent on the Travel Channel.

McDonough says Fox likely has its fingers crossed for bad weather on the Feb. 6 Super Bowl -- more sports fans cooped up watching at home equals even higher ratings.