April 28, 2012

The Sked: MAY SWEEP UPDATE (through 2 nights)

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>With two nights of the May Sweep in (Thursday’s official ratings and Friday’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.  It’s 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. 

As we have seen most of the season, FOX and NBC are suffering huge declines from last year, while the ABC and especially CBS declines are much closer to a normal drop.  But all four broadcasters are down, and the ultimate winner at the end of the month will be only somewhat above a 2 rating with young adults.   

              MAY SWEEP
  Adult 18-49 Rating Live+Same Day
     (through 2 of 28 nights)

            2012  2011
        CBS  2.1   2.2  – 5%
        FOX  2.0   2.8  -27%
        ABC  1.8   2.0  – 9%
        NBC  1.3   1.9  -32%

Last year, FOX’s 2.8 average after the first two nights turned into a 3.1 rating for the entire May 2011 Sweep period (with the American Idol finale on the last night of the sweep pushing FOX well ahead of the pack).

The two-day CBS average of a 2.2 rating ended up pretty close to final 28-day number (2.1).  
ABC’s two-day 2.0 average turned into a 2.4 rating for the full May 2011 Sweep, as its strongest time periods (Dancing with the Stars and Modern Family are yet to be reflected in the averages).
Finally, NBC’s 1.9 rating after two nights turned out to be the same number as its final May Sweep rating.  With The Voice still to be factored in, NBC’s May 2012 rating will lift to about a 1.5 or 1.6, still solidly in fourth place.

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."