May 2, 2012

The Sked: MAY SWEEP UPDATE (through 6 nights)

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

>With six nights of the May Sweep in (Thursday-Monday’s official ratings and Tuesday’s fast national ratings), 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. 

Tuesday night was a down night for every network versus the same night last May.  CBS was down the least (-13%), pushing the CBS sweep-to-date average to a relatively respectable 3% decline for the first six nights of the sweep.  ABC was down 15% versus the same night last year, slightly worse than its -11% pace for the sweep so far.  FOX was down 19% for the first Tuesday of the sweep — it is now pacing 16% behind the first six nights last May.  And NBC had the biggest nightly decline (down 52% from the same night last year), erasing the progress made on Monday night and moving its six-night sweep average to -26% from last May.  Read more about Tuesday night’s fast national ratings here.     

              MAY SWEEP
  Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day
     (through 6 of 28 nights)

            2012  2011
        CBS  2.0   2.1  – 3% 
        ABC  2.0   2.2  -11%
        FOX  1.9   2.3  -16% 
        NBC  1.6   2.1  -26%

The best read on the 2012 May Sweep will come tomorrow morning when we have ratings for the full first week of the period (Thursday-Wednesday nights).  We will continue to update the sweep averages throughout the month.   

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 Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."