The Ratings Race Needs a Trophy

The TV network race is down to the wire - with Fox and CBS neck and neck looking for the big win.

While both networks have claimed sweep wins here and there in the adults 18 to 49 race, it's been a long time since CBS won an entire season; Fox has never done it. That finally means by the end of this month, a new TV champ will raise what amounts to the Nielsen trophy.

Too bad there really isn't some silver hardware to give away, because TV ratings are like sports. There's the regular season, which goes from September to May, and the playoffs - the November, February and May sweeps.

The business trades have always kept a running daily and weekly score. Just like the sports pages, the entertainment press gives us the starting pitching (that would be a story arc that night) and batting averages (the previous ratings show results.



A trophy - an actual presentation by Nielsen or some independent party - would serve as a big marketing tool for broadcast television. Perhaps the season race could be a sponsored affair, with a major presenting advertiser offering a trophy (and possibly, just like a tennis match, a big cardboard check.)

Cable networks could have their own trophy since they can't individually compete with any individual broadcast network as of yet. Syndication programming would also get their due - though "Wheel of Fortune," "Jeopardy," and "Oprah" would be the boring repeat winners. Maybe in true TV form, there could be an actual awards ceremony - and not just for the big awards but for the little time period and individual demo award wins.

Pax TV might be the impartial network to run it, especially now that it plans on airing only infomercials as its regular staple programming. Awards shows are like infomercials anyway. The Emmys have been operating this way for years.

A TV ratings trophy would crown TV programs' ups and downs as a great sport. And a ratings trophy would be a far better symbol than an Emmy award for a TV producer.

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