May 3, 2012

The Sked: MAY SWEEP UPDATE (7 of 28 nights)

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>With a full week of ratings for the May Sweep in (Thursday-Tuesday’s official ratings and Wednesday’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. 

FOX has a decent lead over the other networks after one week of the sweep, despite suffering a high double-digit decline.  It should expand on its lead with by the end of the month with an expected uptick in the final few American Idol episodes.  (Last May, FOX averaged a 2.7 rating at this point and finished the full sweep with a 3.1 rating).      

              MAY SWEEP
  Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day
     (through 7 of 28 nights)

            2012  2011
        FOX  2.3   2.7  -16% 
        CBS  2.1   2.2  – 3% 
        ABC  2.0   2.2  – 8%
        NBC  1.6   2.1  -24%

CBS will probably finish near the 2.1 rating it is currently averaging, while ABC could close the gap and finish in a tie with CBS or perhaps edge past them.  NBC, with the steepest declines of any network so far this May, is probably headed for a 1.6 at the end of 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."