Race for First Place Tightens in Sweeps

Feb 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Coming off last week’s Grammy Awards, CBS continues to lead February sweeps by a clear margin. But Fox is gaining ground on the strength of “American Idol” and “House.”

CBS’s “49th Annual Grammy Awards” on Sunday, Feb. 11, was the highest-rated telecast of the awards show in three years, which added to the network’s Super Bowl boost earlier this month. CBS finished the second week of sweeps with a 6.6, followed by Fox with a 4.7 (creeping up from 4.4 a week earlier), then ABC (3.4), NBC (3.0) and The CW (1.3).

CBS’s “Criminal Minds” lost some of its post-Super Bowl bloom, however, with last week’s regular Wednesday night episode matching its second-lowest rating of the season.

Even with CBS’s large lead, it is far too soon to call the race. Not only is “Idol” as strong as ever, but “House” set its second recent series high last week, and “24” and “Bones” continue to perform well for Fox.

“House” was up 10 percent Tuesday night over the previous week despite lead-in “Idol” being down 4 percent. A two-hour “24” gave Fox a Monday night win over “Heroes”-powered NBC, partly due to a season low for NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

The next day, NBC announced “Studio” would depart its schedule a week earlier than planned to make room for “The Black Donnellys,” raising the specter of cancellation for the much-discussed Aaron Sorkin series.

Compared with sweeps last year, there are some wild fluctuations due to sporting-event scheduling. CBS is up 78 percent thanks to gaining the Super Bowl, while ABC is down 48 percent for not having it. NBC is down 35 percent due to having the Olympics last year. Fox is up 4 percent due to “Idol” and “House” improvements.

The CW has either lost or gained ground, depending on which former network one compares it with. Against UPN, The CW is up 18 percent, but compared with The WB, it is down 13 percent.