It happens only three times a year. It determines who lines their pockets and who doesn't. And for February 2001, it's over.
The early results are in regarding February's network ratings sweeps, the one-month span of programming aimed at attracting viewers in order to impress advertisers. Last month, ABC impressed completely
According to figures released Wednesday by ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, ABC won February with an average prime time audience of 15.7 million viewers, followed by NBC with 13.5 million, CBS with 13.3 million and FOX with 10.2 million. ABC also won the coveted 18-49 age demographic with 5.8 million viewers, compared to NBC's 5.6 million, Fox' 4.8 million and CBS' fourth-ranking 4.0 million.
ABC Entertainment co-chairman Stu Bloomberg told reporters at a press conference Wednesday he's reveling in "the pleasure of being able to say we've won the February sweeps." This "pleasure" is long awaited: ABC hasn't won the February sweeps in 12 years.
While NBC pulled out the stops in February - airing the heavily watched miniseries "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" and killing off a central character on "Third Watch" - the network couldn't surpass ABC, which easily won with its juggernaut "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."
Then again, CBS also played its own hand quite well, but couldn't knock off ABC. Ratings for "Survivor: The Australian Outback" and the Grammys easily won their respective timeslots - and were both among the highest rated shows of the entire month. However, ABC's "Millionaire," which airs at least four times a week, brought in such sheer volume, even a group of good-looking people Down Under couldn't compete.
The ratings sweeps occur every February, May and November. Advertisers closely watch the results of the sweeps to foresee how much the networks will be charging for commercial time. A network that wins the sweeps is always expected to increase their rates. As for the 18-49 demographic, it is prized due to one reason: spending power.
Official results from Neilsen Media Research will be released within the next week.