Only Peacock Can Crow After Sweeps

Time for a quick sweeps quiz. Which number doesn’t belong?: 12.8,12.7,13.0,12.9, or 9.9. That’s right, 9.9 – CBS’ depressingly low final rating for the November sweeps marks a resounding 23% plunge for a network that had been remarkably consistent for the past four Novembers.

After ending a nine-year drought by winning the last two fall sweeps, CBS fell to a distant third this year with its 9.9 rating and 16 share, behind victorious NBC (12.0/19) and ABC (11.4/19). Fox scored a 7.6/12 but easily bested CBS among adults 18-49.

Fades at finish

CBS had seemed to be in decent shape at the halfway point – thanks to miniseries “Streets of Laredo” and “Nothing Lasts Forever” – but faded at the finish, losing four-tenths of a ratings point while ABC and NBC gained ground. (All figures are based on Nielsen data.) Although the news was not as grim for ABC and Fox, neither network had much to be thankful for in this sweeps. ABC won the November sweeps three years ago with a 13.5 rating but the web’s figures have declined steadily – to 12.7 in 1993,12.3 last year and the 11.4 this November. “The Beatles Anthology” averaged a modest 13.8/23 over six hours, beaten by NBC’s “The World’s Greatest Magic” on Nov. 22 from 9-10 p.m. and by repeats of the blockbusters “Home Alone” and “ER” on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23.

Fox has been up and down the past few Novembers – from a 7.8 rating in 1991 to 8.2 in 1992,7.4 in 1993, 8.0 in 1994. This was a down season, as Fox stumbled in the latter half of the sweeps, losing three-tenths of a ratings point in the second fortnight.

There was plenty of holiday cheer for NBC, however, which recaptured the sweeps crown it wore throughout much of the 1980s and into the early ’90s. The 12.0 rating marks a gain of four-tenths of a ratings point over last season’s sweeps, although it doesn’t quite equal 1993’s 12.2 performance.

And it’s a far cry for all the networks from 1991, when NBC’s 13.2 topped ABC and CBS at a 12.8 rating each.

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