USA Today's Gary Levin has an article in Thursday's edition to kick off the May Sweeps that begin Thursday night. The article covers some of the season's highs and lows, including a spring ratings slump:
Since the Olympics, a drop-off in prime-time TV usage, after years of steady gains, has given networks and ad buyers cause for concern. While overall TV usage is down 2.6%, viewership among women 18-34 is down nearly 6% compared with the same period last year, affecting broadcast networks more than cable.
Nielsen chalks the decline on several factors, including less original programming compared with last year (when the February sweeps was pushed to March), holidays that bunched together and better weather.
Nielsen senior VP of insight and analysis Pat McDonough also cites the improving economy as a cause, noting gains at the box office and increased restaurant spending.
"Internet use was either flat or a little down in March, and that tells us that people are not sitting at home," she says. Last season, "even people who had jobs were worried about the economy and wanted to stay home."