Network Shows Down In November Sweeps

Remember how big the November sweeps used to be? For viewers, the memory is becoming more distant.

On the last Thursday of the still-big November TV period, virtually every network show took it on the chin. Similar ratings trends also took place earlier in the week.

Big shows -- such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," CBS' "CSI," NBC's "The Office" and Fox' "Fringe" -- all sank lower versus their respective results of a week before. Some of this could be due to a NFL Network Thursday night game between the Miami Dolphins-Carolina Panthers. That network's Thursday games have been pulling in around 4 million viewers on average.

Looking at just the young at heart on this Thursday, CW's nice surprise this season, "Vampire Diaries," fell across all the demographics that matter to them. It earned a Nielsen 1.6/5 among 18-49 viewers versus a 1.9/5 the week before. Its companion show "Supernatural" also moved lower to a 1.2/3, from a 1.3/3.

The only bit of comfort was from CBS' "The Mentalist," which improved some to a 3.7/11 among adult 18-49 viewers versus a 3.6/10.



Bigger declines were seen with ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," which landed with a 5.1/13 -- down 9%. Its 10 p.m. companion show, "Private Practice," went south big time, dropping 21% to a 3.1/9.

NBC's "The Office" saw a season-low 3.7/10, down 12%. Fox's "Fringe" sank 9% to a 2.0/5. ABC's once high-flying "FlashForward" is now at a more humbling 2.4/7, off 8% from a week ago.

All this gave CBS a shrug-of-the-shoulders victory for the night among those key 18-49ers: at a 3.7/10. Usual Thursday winner ABC was right behind, with a 3.5/10.

NBC and Fox were in a distant third-place tie at a 2.3/6 apiece. CW scored a bit better than Univision, with a 1.5/4 among 18-49 viewers and a 1.7/5 for 18-34 viewers. Univision earned a 1.4/4 for 18-49 viewers and a 1.6/5 for 18-34.

3 comments about "Network Shows Down In November Sweeps".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 23, 2009 at 8:55 a.m.

    Chalk up the decline in broadcast network ratings to "loss of urgency" -- viewers no longer make appointments with TV shows because they know they can catch them later on Hulu or TiVo. Add to that, all the fragmentation of a couple hundred channels and unlimited movies that download for $10 a month from Netflix, and it's a wonder the networks are alive at all.

    40 years ago when I was in college, I dreamed of working for NBC. Lately I've been advising students to dream of working for Comcast. Little did I know then that it would turn out to be the same dream.

  2. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, November 23, 2009 at 3:58 p.m.

    I used to remember when "The Sweeps" meant you were about to be treated to Blockbuster Movies and Mini-Series, as well as the Best Programming of any series. Nowadays the Sweeps means you'll get New Episodes of Current Series (Most of which don't hold a candle to the older series). Is it any wonder people are abandoning the Networks? As for Cable, many people I know are talking about cancelling their subscriptions, saying in these times, it just isn't worth paying for those programs either.

  3. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., November 23, 2009 at 6:06 p.m.

    That's because these shows are, well, boring. More Cops & Emergency Rooms & Caring Doctors & Dancing Fat People - how will I live without seeing the 105th season of CSI: Beaumont, Texas? Shows like "6 Feet Under" (HBO), "Sons of Anarchy" (FX) and "Crash" (Starz) show innovative TV-making at it's best. Why? Because they don't pander to the lowest common denominator - and that's the key to the future of video. But I've told you too much already...

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