ABC wins first May sweeps since 2000
Finishes comfortably ahead of No. 2 CBS with a 1.7 in 18-49s
May 22, 2014
It’s fair to say that very few people expected ABC, the fourth-place network this season among adults 18-49, to finish first in the May sweeps.
In fact, in a survey posted on Media Life at the beginning of the month, only 14 percent of readers picked the network to win the four-week period used by local stations to set ad rates.
But ABC pulled it off.
The network won the May sweeps for the first time in 14 years, since May 2000, and it did it without its No. 2 program, “Scandal,” which wrapped up its season in mid-April.
With just two nights left to tally in sweeps, which wrap up tonight, ABC held an insurmountable lead.
The network has averaged a 1.7 adults 18-49 rating and 5 share, according to Nielsen, comfortably ahead of No. 2 CBS at 1.5/5 and No. 3 NBC with a 1.4/4. Fox posted a 1.3/4.
Univision finished fifth in the demo, and the CW was sixth.
ABC clearly saved its best for last.
The network also won the final five weeks of the regular season, its longest winning streak in seven and a half years.
There have been several keys to ABC’s victory. The first is more about the competition than the network itself. ABC is the only broadcast network that does not carry NFL, MLB or Olympic sporting events and therefore gets no kick-up from sports in its ratings.
Once the NCAA men’s basketball tournament finished up in April, there were no more significant sporting events to buoy the other networks, and so that made for a more level playing field, so to speak, for ABC.
But ABC also had a solid end to the year while the other networks were struggling.
Though “Dancing with the Stars,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Modern Family” certainly don’t earn the ratings they did a few years ago, they are still top programs in the demo, and they’ve held up better than a lot of the competition.
On Tuesday, for example, ABC’s “Stars” topped Fox’s once-mighty “Idol” in the demo, something unthinkable in the latter show’s prime.
ABC also got a nice boost on Friday, a throwaway night for the other networks where they post low numbers, and Sunday, where it consistently finished No. 1 in May with regular programming and the occasional highly rated special like this past week’s Billboard Music Awards.
The sweeps victory gives ABC some momentum going into fall. Though it still finished the season in fourth, the competitive spring certainly gave it something to build on.
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