I love television! I just do! Shonda Rhimes owns my Thursday nights. Four times a year there is a thing you might of heard of called “sweeps”. It is a four-week span each quarter (February, May, July, November) where ratings for television are measured and turned into books that can then be used to estimate ratings for the remainder of the year. Fun fact… The term "sweeps" actually came from how Nielsen (before the internet) would collect diaries from households starting in the Eastern United States and from there they would "sweep" west.
As a media buyer this means a lot to me and affects my job a lot. Now how does it affect the average American? Well let me tell you! Television gets VERY, VERY EXCITING! There are no reruns and shows bring out all the big moments. Good ratings in sweeps mean good things for a show and can help them gain more advertising.
Local news stations work hard to get viewers and use big stories to draw your attention and give them a competitive edge during sweeps. “Are there snakes in your toilet? Find out at 10!” “Shampoos causing cancer, is yours one of them? Tune in at 6.” These are both examples of promos you might encounter encouraging you to tune into your local news during sweeps.
As a whole, one GREAT BOOK (period of sweeps) or one bad one aren’t going to change a media buyers entire game plan. These are an estimate that has to be taken into consideration with a lot of other factors in mind. However, as someone who loves a good gimmick, an amazing guest star or a good plot twist, I love sweeps! I hope your favorite show is pulling out all the stops for you!