The February sweeps ended Wednesday, and with the final ratings for the period coming in Thursday afternoon, each of the television networks will soon compile the data, crunch the numbers, and declare victory.
In reality though, the February ratings period is a brutal battle, with networks sending their best and brightest out to do battle, and quickly carting the losers off on their shields, never to be seen again.
Here’s five things we learned from the February sweeps period.
1. American Idol is damaged.
Let’s be clear, it’s still a huge hit. It’s not going away any time soon, but since Idol had reached a point where the only valid ratings comparisons were to previous seasons of the show, it’s still an appropriate topic to bring up when the ratings drop. In February, the show was beaten four straight weeks by “Big Bang Theory,” and also fell behind “Two and a Half Men” and “Modern Family” as well. Numbers are down from last year, and in some ways the worst they’ve been in a decade. The new judges were supposed to add buzz to the show, but the numbers aren’t bearing that out.
2. NBC badly needs some hits.
NBC is trying to get some new shows onto the schedule, but it’s not working out. The new drama “Do No Harm” absolutely tanked in its debut, and got canned after two shows. “Smash” came back to a ton of hype, and a horrendous 1.2 rating. Last year it debuted to a 3.8, and still held a 1.8 rating for the first season finale, so that’s a huge disappointment for NBC who pushed the show heavily. Replacing “Revolution” with “Deception” lost most of that audience (from a 2.9 finale for “Revolution” to a 1.1 rating for last week’s “Deception”), and NBC now has to hope they’ll return when “Revolution” comes back on March 25.
3. NBC needs comedy too.
Not to bag on the Peacock network too much, but their comedy lineup is a dumpster fire right now. “30 Rock’s” finale was the highest-rated episode in almost a year, but with the show gone and “The Office” soon to follow in May, NBC doesn’t have much left on the lineup in terms of comedy other than “Parks and Recreation.” “Whitney” and “Guys With Kids” have hit their worst ratings of the year and of the entire lot, none are strong enough to be certain renewals. “Go On” and “The New Normal” started off strong but have lost more than half their audience over the course of the season. NBC’s lineup is the wrong kind of funny.
4. CBS is dominant.
As expected, CBS continues to kill in the ratings. With their Monday comedy block and the “NCIS” franchise, there’s not many holes in the network’s lineup. CBS waited for sweeps to bring back new episodes of “The Big Bang Theory,” and saw that show pummel FOX’s “American Idol” every single week. So far this season CBS has missed on two Friday night shows (“The Job” and “Made In Jersey”), which rarely draw ratings anyway, and one comedy (“Partners”) that had “Rules of Engagement” waiting in the wings to replace it. Everything else they’re knocking out of the park.
5. ABC is a steady presence.
With few exceptions, ABC doesn’t have ratings juggernauts. ABC wins Wednesday night behind “Modern Family,” and claims Friday nights thanks to “Shark Tank,” but for the most part, ABC’s lineup is just steady as the sunrise. While it looks like they missed on “Zero Hour,” ABC has seen a jump in the numbers for “Castle” and “The Bachelor,” and most of the Sunday lineup draws a constant audience. ABC is good (but not great) all over the lineup, with only a few spots that need replacing.
— Reid Kerr didn’t mention the CW, because most people don’t. Follow Reid on Twitter and yell at him.