Masked Scheduler's Ratings Smackdown

We start today's Masked Mail with an observation and question from long time Masketeer Jan, who writes:
"I just Googled 'television sweeps' and was surprised to read that there are dates for sweeps periods for this TV season. I know I'm getting old, but I seem to remember that sweeps periods used to be filled with special event programming (miniseries, movies, etc.) and/or special episodes. Is that still happening? Of course, I seldom watch broadcast network TV, so maybe I'm just out of touch here? Thanks for updating me on the current TV scene."
Sweeps are not what they used to be. There are several reasons, but I would say it's mostly because more and more of the larger markets have local people meters, so stations and local advertisers are getting overnight demographic data and no longer have to rely on Nielsen diaries, which happen four times a year. Smaller markets are still dependent on these surveys, which occur in November, February, May and July.
The networks still try to make sure there are original episodes of their regular series during the in-season sweeps periods, and you still see some annual events (like awards shows) taking place within the sweeps. Regarding one-time events in sweeps, they were more for network bragging rights than for the benefit of local stations. Local station research, at the request of their sales group, would take out those atypical events as well as the ratings for the late news on atypical nights.
Sweeps used to be a big deal, and the networks would hold news conferences to brag about their performance. They would often be the top story in the trade papers when the trades were daily in print. I participated in several of those post-sweeps press conferences. In fact, I have a blowup of the front page of Variety when FOX won its first sweep. I posted it on my Twitter feed. They have pretty much lost their relevance now.
LY simply asks, "Why don't single-camera sitcoms use laugh tracks anymore?"
I can only speculate. Just so everyone is on the same page, a single-camera comedy is not shot in front of a live audience. Multi-camera comedies like "The Big Bang Theory" do have a live audience, and the laughter comes from the audience at the show. It could also be enhanced.
As you all know there has been an aversion on the part of broadcast executives to multi-camera comedies, and I think putting a laugh track on a single-camera show sort of defeats the purpose of avoiding that format. The fact that multi-cams are the most popular comedies and even Netflix has embraced the format still hasn't convinced execs to go back to this tried-and-true formula or even to put a laugh track on single-cams. I guess one of the unintended consequences of this reboot phenomenon is the return of the multi-cam for shows like "Will & Grace" and "Roseanne."
I'm here to answer all of your questions, so email me at and feel free to follow on twitter @maskedscheduler.

Broadcast primetime live + same-day ratings for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018

Note: NBC’s live Olympics broadcast may result in greater adjustments than usual for the network in the final ratings.

The numbers for Tuesday:

Time Show Adults 18-49 rating/share
Viewers (millions)
8 p.m. Winter Olympics (NBC) (8-11 p.m.) 3.9/15 16.84
The Bachelor Winter Games (ABC) (8-10 p.m.) 0.9/3 3.24
NCIS (CBS) – R 0.7/3 7.15
Lethal Weapon (FOX) – R 0.6/2 2.55
The Flash (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.89
9 p.m. Bull (CBS) – R 0.5/2 5.42
LA to Vegas (FOX) – R 0.5/2 1.71
Black Lightning (The CW) – R 0.2/1 0.97
9:30 p.m. The Mick (FOX) – R 0.5/2 1.42
10 p.m. NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) – R 0.6/2 5.24
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (ABC) 0.4/2 1.55


The Winter Olympics easily led Tuesday night’s ratings, and the “Winter Games” improved a bit.

“The Bachelor Winter Games” drew a 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 for ABC, up from both of last week’s episodes (0.8 and 0.7). A new episode of “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” didn’t fare so well, hitting a season-low 0.4.

The Winter Olympics on NBC and NBCSN scored a combined 13.9 household rating in metered markets, down from 15.2 last week but up a good amount from the comparable night in Sochi four years ago (12.0). In the fast nationals, NBC’s 16.84 million viewers and 3.9 is down from 20.12 million and 5.2 last week.

CBS, FOX and The CW all aired repeats.

Network averages:

Adults 18-49 rating/share 3.9/15 0.7/3 0.6/2 0.6/2 0.2/1
Total Viewers (millions) 16.84 2.68 5.93 2.06 0.93


: Estimated percentage of the universe of TV households (or other specified group) tuned to a program in the average minute. Ratings are expressed as a percent.
Fast Affiliate Ratings: These first national ratings are available at approximately 11 a.m. ET the day after telecast. The figures may include stations that did not air the entire network feed, as well as local news breaks or cutaways for local coverage or other programming. Fast Affiliate ratings are not as useful for live programs and are likely to differ significantly from the final results, because the data reflect normal broadcast feed patterns. 
Share (of Audience): 
The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, station or network in a specific area at a specific time. 
Time Shifted Viewing:
 Program ratings for national sources are produced in three streams of data – Live, Live +Same-Day and Live +7 Day. Time-shifted figures account for incremental viewing that takes place with DVRs. Live+SD includes viewing during the same broadcast day as the original telecast, with a cut-off of 3 a.m. local time when meters transmit daily viewing to Nielsen for processing. Live +7 ratings include  viewing that takes place during the 7 days following a telecast.

Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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