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Anchors off during sweeps


Greggo
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Not that long ago, most stations would prevent on-air talent from taking any time off during sweeps months, such as May. The stakes were too high. Now, it seems many bosses are OK with letting anchors take off days or even a week or more. I’m seeing it in multiple markets. Kind of surprising turn of events. An indicator that ratings aren’t as important as they once were? An attempt to keep talent in a tight labor market? Or …

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Greggo said:

Not that long ago, most stations would prevent on-air talent from taking any time off during sweeps months, such as May. The stakes were too high. Now, it seems many bosses are OK with letting anchors take off days or even a week or more. I’m seeing it in multiple markets. Kind of surprising turn of events. An indicator that ratings aren’t as important as they once were? An attempt to keep talent in a tight labor market? Or …

Talent has a lot more power now in many cases then before due to the Great Resignation of people we have seen in the last several years, and it has started well before the pandemic started. https://hbr.org/2022/03/the-great-resignation-didnt-start-with-the-pandemic

 

Talent can make more money with just social media then with a TV Station backing them up. Stations need to adapt or fall like newspapers.

Edited by Kenneth Kissel
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Not an apples to apples comparison, but something similar. I've had a retail management career for nearly 2 decades...currently a district manager.  It was blacked out for many years to take PTO during November- early January (busy holiday shopping season). That thought process has changed in the last 3-5yrs as brick and mortar continues to lose out to digital shopping. Same thing goes for the TV news industry. Habits change, the "biz" needs to adapt and change with it. 

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Seriously, it's good that Nielsen isn't the monolith they were in the past and that ratings are now not only day-to-day in most markets, but often lessened as the 'rat race' has been de-emphasized. It always seemed stupid to 'hold back' an important story until a sweeps period because you had to have it backed up by some NBC disaster movie or tie somehow to an ER episode, and although there are still some sites (Deadline and TVNewser specifically) that still think people care about the night-to-night 'ratings battle', we're now in an age where those big stories are on YouTube or turned into a web series/vertical.

 

If people need to take time off; let them. I'd rather see a happy anchor rather than one grumping through the last part of sweeps. Also don't forget that NBC station folks probably had to hold back summer 2020-2021 plans thanks to the Olympic delays and COVID, and are finally able to get those vacations in just now.

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The concept of sweeps dates back to when ratings for TV were only measured in the months of February, May, July and November. This all also goes back to when ratings were measured via the diary method. With Nielsen now utilizing electronic methods to measure ratings, the whole concept of sweeps no longer really matters, and hasn't for some time. Stations often get ratings back the next day (hence the term "overnights") rather than just four times a year now. So many stations are now treating every day as if it's now sweeps and that's why you're also starting to see stations tease "sweeps month" like stories throughout the year. That's why it doesn't matter when talent takes time off anymore.

 

But some stations continue to hold on to the concept of sweeps, perhaps because it is more practical to adjust spot rates four times a year as opposed to every month.

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Given how much news stations do now, it would be a lot easier on the schedule to open the door to vacations at almost any time of year, so that you don't end up with too many people cramming vacations into the same weeks.

 

In exchange, I would black out important events that you know are coming. For everyone, that might be high-viewership periods like the time around the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards. For us, that might be the week of the Big 12 basketball tournament, or in 2023, the NFL draft, or the week of an election.

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3 hours ago, TheRob said:

In exchange, I would black out important events that you know are coming. For everyone, that might be high-viewership periods like the time around the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards. For us, that might be the week of the Big 12 basketball tournament, or in 2023, the NFL draft, or the week of an election.

 

Or, y'know, an election.

 

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As others have said, many stations have really let up on the idea of sweeps, but the more old-fashioned, traditional NDs/GMs (some who really aren't that old!) hold fast to it. I know of a shop whose GM bans vacation in the one or two weeks before, during, and after sweeps.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

July sweeps is always seen as not that important. Usually the least important of the four sweeps periods. 
 

The ones that stations really care about are May and November, since those are the ones they metric to set ad rates.

 

But more likely, the reason we are seeing this is because “sweeps” is pretty much a thing of the past, with more accurate metrics from companies like commscore which are measured at all times, not just certain periods, many stations are switching away from Nielsen.

 

When I worked at a station in a market that preferred commscore, the saying was “we’re always in sweeps”

Edited by MarkBRollins88_v2
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