As I write it is now sweeps time on TV. This is when the TV networks pull stunts to increase their ratings so they can raise their advertising rates. Good Morning America’s live birth bit this morning is a classic example of a sweeps stunt.
What I have never understood, however, is why sweeps are necessary, and why advertisers would pay for commercial time based on sweeps numbers. If Good Morning America, for instance, gets a large bump in the Nielsen ratings today due to its baby stunt, does that have any bearing on how many people will watch the show next Tuesday when it returns to its regular programming? Why should or would an advertiser pay for advertising on next Tuesday’s show based on the ratings today’s obviously gimmicky episode gets. The sweeps ratings are not representative of the show’s regular ratings, so why set ad rates based on them?
Furthermore, with regular Nielsen ratings released overnight why is it even necessary to have sweeps? The networks know what ratings their shows are getting and can charge accordingly.
If anyone can, please enlighten me as to why sweeps continue to exist and what purpose they serve. I just don’t get it.