Eye Net Narrows Sweeps Demo Gap

Dec 1, 2003  •  Post A Comment

CBS was the only broadcast network up across the board year to year in November sweeps.
The network will win the sweep in total viewers and its target audience of adults 25 to 54, but finish a strong second to NBC in adults 18 to 49-the demo for which advertisers pay a hefty premium.
“CBS declares a convincing, dominating and historic sweep victory,” CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said on a conference call to reporters last week. “Just read the numbers. They are there in black and white. We are the only network having a wonderful sweep. We’re not down. We’re up across the board.”
CBS is up 2 percent in adults 18 to 49, 10 percent in total viewers and 8 percent in adults 25 to 54. CBS will win the sweep in total viewers by about 3 million viewers-the largest margin of victory for CBS since 1980 and the largest margin by any network since 1989. CBS will also win the sweep in adults 25 to 54 for the first time since 1980.
The network is also the closest it’s been to first place in the 18 to 49 demo-only three-tenths of a rating point behind NBC-since at least 1987 when people meters were instituted by Nielsen Media Research. The irony is CBS has vocally targeted the adults 25 to 54 demo, claiming that that’s really where advertisers spend the most money.
CBS’s performance in adults 18 to 49 won’t change that focus.
“We like winning in every category,” Mr. Moonves said. “We’ve always said the most money is in 25 to 54, and we’re winning it, which is something I never thought I would say in this job.”
While CBS had the most to crow about, NBC was the victor in the adults 18 to 49 race. Declaring November “a very good month for NBC,” NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said they project NBC will win the sweep in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.5 Nielsen rating. However, the network is down 10 percent year to year in November sweeps. Mr. Zucker said NBC programming in the 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. hour leading into local news beat CBS programming by 35 percent and ABC programming by 46 percent in adults 25 to 54.
“Where it matters the most, we’ve delivered the most,” he said.
In other news from last week’s round of sweeps calls:
ABC will finish the sweep in third place in adults 18 to 49. ABC Entertainment Group Chairman Lloyd Braun said ABC stayed true to its strategy of being patient with its young schedule this November sweeps. He said ABC kept more of its regular schedule intact than did the other networks and resisted making changes that would have eked out extra ratings points in the short term.
“It’s hard not to make those changes, but we really are looking to build the schedule for the long term,” he said. “We feel we need to stand by promising new shows and give them time to find an audience.”
On nights where ABC’s schedule is anchored with comedies-Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday-ABC was No. 1 in those time periods in adults 18 to 49 for the sweep. While eight of its 10 comedies win their time slot in adults 18 to 49, Mr. Braun admitted ABC still doesn’t have a monster hit.
ABC picked up Warner Bros.-produced “The D.A.,” starring Steven Weber, for midseason. ABC plans to air the pilot and three additional episodes as a mini-event this spring.
CBS is bringing “Star Search” back to Saturdays at 8 p.m., starting Jan. 17. It will replace “48 Hours,” which will move to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. to fill the hole left by “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.”
Even though CBS has had a strong crop of new shows with “Two and a Half Men,” “Cold Case” and “Joan of Arcadia” leading the way, Mr. Moonves said that doesn’t change the network’s development strategy. He said it has the same amount of comedy and drama scripts in development as it has had the past three years. The success of the current schedule means the bar is higher, he said.
“To get on our schedule, you better be pretty damn good,” he said.
Mr. Moonves said a third edition of “CSI” is being developed, and that it will be set in a big city.
“There are four cities that are being talked about,” he said. “We’ve had a few meetings with the producers. We don’t want to spread them too thin.”
Mr. Zucker said NBC is making good on its promise to debut one new show a month during the season. “Average Joe” debuted in November, sitcom “Tracy Morgan” is slated for December, reality show “The Apprentice” will launch in January and a drama and sitcom will debut in February and March, respectively.
“The Apprentice,” featuring Donald Trump, will get a 90-minute supersized debut on Thursday, Jan. 8, after “Friends.” The following week, on Jan. 14, “Apprentice” moves to its regular time slot on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. That will displace “Ed,” which will share the Fridays at 9 p.m. slot with “Miss Match.” The time period sharing will allow NBC to not air repeats of either series.
“Ed” will end its season in February. Then “Miss Match” will return to finish its run. “Miss Match” has not been given a full-season order. Mr. Zucker said additional episodes would be ordered, but he isn’t sure yet how many will be needed.
Mr. Zucker said “Average Joe” will stay on NBC’s schedule.
Similar to how NBC taped and aired “For Love or Money” and “For Love or Money 2” back to back this summer, “Average Joe 2” will air in the Monday 10 p.m. time slot after the first edition ends and will last through March.
“Crossing Jordan” will also return in the first quarter next year in a to-be-determined time slot. It was on hiatus while star Jill Hennessy had a baby.
Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said the biggest problem this fall for Fox, which fell from first in adults 18 to 49 in the May sweeps to fourth place in November, was betting on two nights of “Joe Millionaire.”
“We were wrong,” she said of the underperforming show.
Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group, said that despite Fox’s November woes, “I think you’re going to see this network take off again in January. You’re going to see some other networks come back to earth.”
Fox picked up the back nine episodes of sitcom “Arrested Development” and seven more episodes of “Tru Calling,” giving the network a full season’s worth of episodes for both shows.
UPN is flat in adults 18 to 34, persons 12 to 34 and teens compared with last November sweeps and down 11 percent in adults 18 to 49. With one day remaining in sweeps, UPN was one-tenth of a rating point behind The WB in adults 18 to 49.
“We feel like in a very, very difficult climate and year, our numbers are better than most people,” said UPN Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff.
Ms. Ostroff was encouraged by the strong launches of sitcoms “Eve” on Monday nights and “All of Us” on Tuesday.
“For us, getting some traction on Tuesday night was really an important goal,” she said, noting that UPN didn’t have “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
UPN is bringing back the next edition of “America’s Next Top Model” to Tuesday nights starting in January. To help promote the launch of “Top Model,” UPN will air a repeat of “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,” which originally ran on CBS last week, on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The WB
The WB is down 19 percent in adults 18 to 49, down 20 percent in persons 12 to 34 and down 21 percent in adults 18 to 34, sweep to sweep.
WB Entertainment President Jordan Levin said he’s concerned with the large discrepancy between the local metered-market numbers that come in each morning and the national numbers that are available later in the day. The local numbers show gains for many of the WB shows, while the national numbers show large losses for the same shows.
Mr. Levin said anecdotal evidence from WB station managers conflicts with the numbers.
“Our stations have called and said they were really happy with what’s going on,” he said. “When we started making noise about taking [an underperforming] `Tarzan’ off the schedule, our stations said they didn’t want us too.”
To replace “Tarzan,”
the second edition of “The Surreal Life” will debut Sunday, Jan. 11, at 9 p.m. The WB will air episodes in that time slot Jan. 18 and Jan. 25. On Sunday, Feb. 1, The WB will rerun the first three episodes against the Super Bowl on CBS. The final three episodes of “Surreal” will air the next three weeks in its regular 10 p.m. Sunday time slot, with the finale airing Sunday, Feb. 22.