May 4, 2012

The Sked: MAY SWEEP UPDATE (8 of 28 nights)

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>With eight nights of ratings in for the May Sweep (official ratings for April 26-May 2 and fast national ratings for May 3), 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 numbers are starting to stabilize.  The biggest change in the May 2012 ratings should come later in the sweep when FOX expands its lead with the finale of American Idol.  ABC should remain a fairly competitive third place behind CBS, and NBC is locked into its weak fourth place position.   

              MAY SWEEP
  Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day
     (through 8 of 28 nights)

            2012  2011
        FOX  2.4   3.0  -19% 
        CBS  2.2   2.2  – 1% 
        ABC  2.1   2.2  – 8%
        NBC  1.5   2.1  -25%

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 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."