February Roundup

Fox wins; NBC loses

What a difference a sweeps makes. After a fourth-place finish in November, Fox is positioned to win the February sweeps in the key 18-49 demo and total viewers.

Fox benefited from monster ratings for the Feb. 6 Super Bowl. Although it’s the first time the big game fell in the ratings period, researchers say Fox would probably have won anyway. The reason: American Idol on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Now Fox is adding a third installment on Mondays. Says Magna Global USA EVP of Audience Analysis Steve Sternberg, “That may be just what Fox needs to seal the sweeps deal.”

After winning November, CBS is placing second in February in 18-49s and total viewers. Season-to-date, Fox and CBS are neck and neck among 18-49s.

ABC sits in third place in February, with Desperate Housewives and Lost powering its ascent. The network “still needs to strengthen many other hours, and they could use more comedies,” notes Shari Anne Brill, VP/director of programming for Carat North America.

As for NBC, its ratings woes continue. After winning the coveted 18-49 demo for the past four seasons, the Peacock is in fourth place. The WB and UPN, both off slightly from a year ago, round out the broadcast standings. February sweeps officially ends March 3. Here’s a look, to date, at the winners, losers and a few surprises.