May 24, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Metcalf
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The May Sweep is almost in the books (official ratings for April 26-May 22 and fast national ratings for May 23), and FOX will finish #1 with the 2.4 rating we expected.  ABC closed well in the final few nights as CBS was in full repeat mode — the two networks look to be tied at a 2.0 rating.  However, ABC is down much more (-14%) than CBS (-3%) versus last May.  NBC looks like it will end the sweep with a 1.6 rating.

              MAY SWEEP

  Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day

     (through 28 of 28 nights)



             2012   2011  % chg

        FOX  2.37   3.14  -24% 

        CBS  2.02   2.08  – 3% 

        ABC  2.04   2.38  -14%

        NBC  1.63   1.86  -12%


With all four networks down versus last year and three suffering double-digit declines, it’s a May (and a spring) to forget on the broadcast networks.  On to the frivolity of summer reality programming and the massive marketing campaigns for the new fall series.


The May Sweep is an important measurement period because most local TV stations use these ratings for six months to set advertising rates (until the next major sweep in November) — including the rates paid by political candidates in the upcoming election.  It is also a very high profile ratings contest because the network performance is scrutinized by advertisers and agencies as the upfront process kicks off in a few weeks to establish advertising rates for next fall’s prime time schedules.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.