How Sweeps Week Works

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Author's Note: How Sweeps Week Works

I don't know anyone who watches broadcast TV. OK, that's not true. I don't know anyone who watches broadcast TV in the traditional sense, meaning tuning into ABC or NBC on a Tuesday night at 8 pm to watch the latest episode of a favorite sitcom. I know plenty of people — myself included — who hear about a good network TV show and watch a couple episodes online when they have an hour to spare. These 30 spare minutes almost never occur at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday. With mobile apps for Netflix, Hulu and several premium cable channels, you don't even have to be home to watch TV — airports and dentist waiting rooms are excellent venues. The very concept of Sweeps Weeks — hinging an entire business model on mailed paper viewing diaries — seems wildly out of step with modern, mobile-ready entertainment and will almost certainly go the way of the dodo.

Related Articles


  • Adgate, Brad. "Why TV Sweeps Needs to Die." Advertising Age. Dec. 9, 2010 (July 24, 2014)
  • Faughnder, Ryan. "Wait for it: Fall TV season sees big delayed-viewing boost." Los Angeles Times. June 9, 2014 (July 31, 2014)
  • Fletcher, Dan. "A Brief History of Sweeps Week." Time. Oct. 29, 2009 (July 24, 2014),8599,1883157,00.html
  • Gross, Lynn Schafer. "Ratings." Museum of Broadcast Communications (July 24, 2014)
  • James, Meg. "Nielsen 'people meter' changed the TV ratings game 25 years ago." Los Angeles Times. Aug. 31, 2012 (July 24, 2014)
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  • Wallenstein, Andrew. "TV Sweeps Week Surprisingly Stunt Free." NPR. Nov. 3, 2006 (July 24, 2014)