ANSWERS: 2
  • Sweeps week is when networks set their advertising rates. They usually take place in November, February, May and July.
  • At various times throughout the year, Nielsen Media Research, the company which records viewing figures for television programs, sends out diaries to sample homes in the various markets around the country, for the residents to record the shows they watched. These diaries are then "swept" up, and the results analysed to produce viewing figures for the various programs and channels. These are important, because it's based on these that the networks set their advertising rates. The more people watch a show, the more they can charge for the commercials during it. It's no secret when the diaries are operational - see here for the dates: http://www.nielsenmedia.com/sweeps.html And so, during these times, networks deliberately bring out new episodes, series and specials, in an effort to boost their viewing figures, and hence ad revenue. It's the sweeps periods - usually a month, not a week, though each home taking part in the survey only keeps a diary for a week - which determines what shows (and network executives!) live or die.

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