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Broom sweeping away dust on wooden floor illustrates that Sweeps Week is soon to be a thing of the past

The Fate of Sweeps Week: Is It Finally Over?

January 16th, 2019   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

For Fall Sweeps Week 2018, The Young and the Restless went all out:

Jill and Billy Abbott returned to the show, while the body of JT Hellstrom was exhumed, possibly leading to an arrest for his murder, according to Soap Dirt.

Meanwhile, Variety gushed that the venerable Judge Judy won the sweeps for syndicated shows by the widest margin ever. Nice, but …

Wake up, television folks. It’s a new era.

The dates for Fall Sweeps Week were October 25 through November 21. But the “fall” moniker is way out of date: There’s now a rated week every month, thanks to changes Nielsen has made. Although the logistics took some time, Nielsen made the switch from paper diaries to data, reported Broadcasting & Cable.

More important, instead of providing quarterly local ratings in small and mid-sized markets, Nielsen will provide electronic measurements in every month.

More Data, Less Stress

This is good news for local stations. When stations’ ratings depend on a single week of the quarter, they’re driven to stuff that week with sensational programming that doesn’t necessarily serve the community. It may not even be good journalism.

TV News Check has the new schedule. The local television survey dates don’t exactly map to months. For example, April 2019 ratings are from March 28 to April 24. What’s important is that every station will have the opportunity to be rated on the full spectrum of its programming.

This is a win for stations and for viewers.

A Post-Sweeps World

How should local stations respond to this enormous change? WDBJ, Gray’s CBS affiliate in Roanoke, Virginia, provided an excellent example to TV News Check: First, it plans promotions across the year, even in those months when there are no co-op funds. Second, it staggers staff vacations to make sure there are never too many anchors off at the same time.

To adjust to this shift, programming should change, according to MediaPost. Instead of big launches in the fall and spring combined with summer doldrums, broadcasters at the national and local level should move toward providing compelling content year-round.

The availability of more granular, continual data will help producers and broadcasters better understand what shows resonate with viewers. It will also let advertisers better segment viewers, using their actual viewing behavior instead of broad demographics.

As programmatic buying becomes more available, advertisers will have an easier way of creating these segments and delivering the right messages to the right households and even to individuals.

Nielsen’s move into a data-driven approach to television ratings is a welcome and vital step into a television advertising marketplace that works for everyone.

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