Why are all my favourite shows on a break this week?

Is there a reason why Glee, Family Guy and 30 Rock are all taking a break this week? (30 Rock is actually off for two weeks!)

I’ve even looked up a few other popular shows that I don’t watch and The Office is off for 3 weeks!

What gives?

I assumed there was no new Family Guy last night because they didn’t want to compete with the Oscars.

There’s an 90 minute episode of American Idol on Tuesday. NBC’s airing an entire 3 hour block of Office reruns for some reason. Big Bang Theory is also a repeat.

February is a sweeps month. It is now March.

If that’s all on Tuesday, there’s no “for some reason” about it. They expect they will lose their audience to American Idol.

This happens every single year, and every single year someone notices it for the first time and asks the question.

There are a limited number of new episodes shows available each season – around 22, IIRC. So to fill out a season, you need to take breaks. There are also three sweeps rating periods a year – November, February, and May. Thus the usual schedule is:

Mid-September - Mid-December – new episodes (usually ending with the Christmas episode).
Mid-December - Mid-January – reruns or a different show.
Mid-January - March 1 (sweeps) – New episodes.
March - Mid-April – reruns or a different show.
Mid-April – Memorial Day – New episodes.
Memorial Day – Mid-September – reruns.

This isn’t true for every show, and doesn’t apply to reality shows, which don’t rerun ( but are cheap to make). But it’s been going on for at least 25 years.

What’s a sweeps ratings period?

It’s when they calculate how many people are watching a show so they can set advertising rates. Shows put their most interesting and blockbuster episodes on during sweeps period for that reason.