Its playoff time again for American television. The February sweeps begin tomorrow and it is a given that sports is going to dominate the ratings. The first big number will come in on Monday morning, February 5 hours after the completion of the Super Bowl which more than likely will be NBC and TV’s most watched program in 2018. NBC is going to win the February sweeps with the Super Bowl and coverage of the South Korea Olympics which begins on February 9 and concludes on February 25. NBC will not see much counter programming from other networks for 17 days during the sweeps period. The Oscars take place on March 4 this year and will not compete with the Olympics. The Oscars presentation is a February sweeps winner but ABC and Oscars producers opted not go head to head against the Games final day.
TV sweeps month has been around since 1954 and is probably extremely dated in this day of fragmentation. In 1954, CBS and NBC were established networks with few competitors as the Dumont network was trying to hang on and ABC was struggling to gain a place in the medium. In 1954, the A. C. Nielsen company sent booklets to American homes and asked people to keep a diary of what they watched. Nielsen still keeps track of TV ratings 64 years later with less than 40,000 homes reporting back to them as to what they are watching. Is Nielsen reliable? That apparently doesn’t matter all that much, Nielsen is accepted as the industry standard. The results are used to set ad prices for local stations. National ad rates come from year round ratings. NBC is going to have big numbers in February and will use that data to figure out what to charge for ads later in the year. Today TV gets more from subscriber fees and ads unlike 1954.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.