The mighty CBS ratings hype machine is no longer happy simply declaring victory in the weekly ratings race. Now the all-powerful Eye, as bored as we are with crushing its rivals in the Nielsen derby, has decided on a new metric by which to define its dominance: The November sweeps. And not just the current month's contest (which, yes, CBS will easily win). No, today the Network of Moonves declared that this month will mark its tenth-consecutive November-sweeps triumph among total viewers. What's more, CBS will also win this sweeps period among the advertiser-coveted demo of viewers under 50 (tied with Fox) — the first time that's happened since 2005. Meanwhile, ABC will rank second for the sweeps.
Fox was squarely in fourth place last week in both viewers and adults 18 to 49. For the sweeps period, however, the race was closer: As noted, Fox will likely share the crown with CBS for first in demos. ABC will be right behind in third while NBC, despite a number of huge Sunday Night Football games, will end up in fourth. Meanwhile, ABC took a hit last week with the American Music Awards: After trending way up in recent years, the kudocast collapsed this year, falling more than 20 percent versus 2009's score. Big football numbers and the absence of Lady Gaga played a role. Rather than simply accept the viewers' verdict, however, ABC is putting a pretty desperate spin on things, touting the AMA's Bieber-powered gains in both teens and kids 2 to 11. To paraphrase one of our Twitter pals, these numbers mean squat to ABC unless the network plans to start pitching prime-time advertisers on the weekly-allowance demo.
Crunching the Numbers
On the network side, the top-rated shows have remained remarkably consistent in recent weeks. Among all viewers, Dancing Qith the Stars, NCIS, and football almost always fall in the top five; with those under 50, Modern Family and Glee take turns as the top scripted shows (Glee won last week — thanks, Gwyneth!). To avoid complete and total boredom, why don't we look over to the syndication charts, which show The Oprah Winfrey Show milking final-season hysteria for all it's worth. During the week of November 8 to 14 (syndie numbers are a week behind prime time), O earned her best Nielsen numbers in nearly three years thanks to visits from Katherine Jackson, Marie Osmond, Phil Donahue, and President Bush. Democrats will be happy to note that the first three guests all drew higher ratings than W. Oprah's now been the top talk show for more than 600 weeks.