NBC to Finish Fifth in Sweeps for First Time in History Deadline

NBC, which has been in a miserable ratings slump, is about to notch another unpleasant milestone as the network is projected to finish the February sweeps period in fifth place for the first time in history, reports.

The Peacock will finish with an average in the key adults 18-49 demo that places it not only behind its three main English-language rivals -- CBS, ABC and Fox -- but also behind Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, the piece reports.

“That’s a crushing blow for NBC, which went from flying high in November with a sweep win to its shows cratering and ratings plunging,” Deadline’s Dominic Patten writes. “From the beginning of the February sweep on January 31 through February 19, NBC has averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s below the 1.5 that Univision has been averaging so far over the 20 nights of the sweep period. In fact, Univision has bested NBC every singe night of the sweep so far among adults 18-49 and is poised to overtake NBC for its first fourth-place sweep finish in the demo.”

Univision has had its moments in the past against the Big 4, including beating CBS for a full month in July 2010 and again in July 2012, the piece notes. But this month marks the first time Univision has beaten NBC, and it's Univision's first fourth-place finish in an in-season sweeps period.

“In addition to Univision, NBC also ranks below the 1.7 18-49 rating that ABC has been averaging this sweep, as well as the 2.0 rating for Fox and the 4.9 rating for leader CBS, which of course is buoyed by its broadcast of the Super Bowl on February 3 and the Grammy Awards on February 10,” Patten writes.

A recent lowlight for NBC was the series debut of “Do No Harm” on Jan. 31, which produced the lowest rating ever for an in-season scripted series premiere. “The dismal 0.9/3 of the premiere fell 22% to 0.7/2 on February 7, leading to the series’ swift cancellation,” Patten writes. “The White House comedy ‘1600 Penn’ is probably not far behind, having hit a weak 1.1/3 in its last airing February 7. Adding to NBC’s woes, the Season 2 return of ‘Smash’ was a train wreck. With a limp 1.1/3 rating, it returned down 71% from its Season 1 debut and 39% from its first-year finale -- and it fell another 25% to a series low of 0.9/2 this week.”

NBC should get some help when “The Voice” returns March 25 and when “Revolution” -- one of only a handful of freshman success stories this season -- comes back.

The piece notes: “NBC actually won last year’s February sweep with an average rating of 3.7, when the network was fuelled by carrying the Super Bowl and the strong start of ‘The Voice.’”