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February Sweeps Full of Surprises


February sweeps is over. The four-week rating period ended on Wednesday with more than a few surprises.

First, NBC set its all-time low for a new show’s debut in the Adults 18-49 ratings demo with the program Do No Harm. The following week, projections placed the Peacock network in fifth place — behind, of all things, Spanish language network Univision — for the first time in history.

Then, The CW, the little network that usually doesn’t, did: its Vampire Diaries managed to beat both ABC’s Zero Hour and NBC’s Parks and Recreation in the Adults 18-49 demo. When’s the last time you heard of The CW beating anyone?

A documentary on singer Beyonce scored the highest rating in history for HBO since Nielsen revamped the way cable viewership was measured back in 2004. The special pulled in 1.8 million viewers. I know Beyonce’s talented, but am I missing something here?

And now, the latest projections show CBS pulling ahead to win February sweeps for the first time in 15 years. And lest you assume that Fox, the network most people would likely assume would be the leading contender for that younger crowd, it’s worth noting that Fox is poised to take third place behind ABC this time around.

The Super Bowl and The Grammys certainly helped CBS’s big score, but there have been plenty of occasions since 1998 (the last time CBS won a February sweeps) that it has carried both specials. In fact, outside of Sunday’s Oscar Awards and the related red-carpet show, CBS had all of the top 10 programs for the month.

The most important ratings period of the year is May sweeps, because the ratings scored there help determine what networks and stations will charge advertisers during the holiday season.

With these kinds of developments in February, the networks might feel the need to scramble to make sure they have a better chance of coming out on top.

This should be interesting. Stay tuned!


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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.