May 10, 2012

The Sked: MAY SWEEP UPDATE — Halfway to the Finish Line

More articles by »
Written by: Mitch Metcalf
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

With two full weeks in for the May Sweep (official ratings for April 26-May 8 and fast national ratings for May 9), here’s an early look at the final major ratings sweep period of the broadcast season, when ratings are measured locally in each of the 214 television markets across the country.

The rank order of the four broadcast networks remains the same: FOX, CBS, ABC and NBC.  However, ABC has slipped further behind CBS, while NBC  has picked up a little ground thanks to a strong finish from The Voice this week.  Next week’s premiere of America’s Got Talent with new judge Howard Stern could have an impact on NBC’s rating but not on its final ranking for the sweep.  NBC should remain in fourth place — the only question is if can get within spitting distance of ABC.  FOX should hold on to win but it might not get as big a lift in the closing nights of the sweep from the American Idol finale as in years past, keeping CBS a fairly close second place.


              MAY SWEEP

   Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day

     (through 14 of 28 nights)


            2012  2011

        FOX  2.3   2.8  -19% 

        CBS  2.2   2.2  – 0% 

        ABC  2.0   2.3  -14%

        NBC  1.6   1.9  -14%


Remember, these averages are based on “Live+Same Day” ratings — the numbers Nielsen releases each morning after a broadcast day.  Ratings that include additional DVR viewing several days after broadcast are released much later but are incredibly important to the business of television.  See some of the ratings you rarely hear about here.


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.