Look for some changes to the ratings across TV land next year in 2009 as Nielsen Media Research is moving the traditional February Sweeps period into March. This is due to a disruption on Feb. 17, 2009 because of a federally mandated transition from analog to digital broadcast spectrum.
What does this means for viewers? Well when February 17, 2009 rolls around, anyone who still has an old 'rabbit-ears' antenna (analog) television will see nothing but a blank screen unless they either buy a new TV set or purchase a converter box that switches the analog signal to digital.
The sweeps are the periods four times each year in which Nielsen issues hundreds of thousands of paper diaries to viewers in markets too small to be measured by its people meter technology. The data is the basis for demographic estimates that determine advertising rates in all but the largest television markets. Traditionally November & May Sweeps are the most important ratings periods for networks as they signal the start and the end of the TV season with November generally the middle indicator of TV viewership. Also considering December (i.e. Christmas) to January is considered the peak TV buying season for consumers, I'm sure you'll be seeing many people buying a new television to cope with this changeover. However it has been indicated that viewership will decrease because of this "disruption" but this transition of February Sweeps to March will not be a permanent one.
So now you're asking yourself: How Will This Affect Soap Ratings?
We all know that soap ratings have been plummeting to horrible levels over the past decade. This is a general trend with viewers either completely tuning out of soaps, recording thier soaps via Tivo/DVR, or watching them online. Add to the fact you have this analog to digital changeover that may have some Nielsen homes not able to make the leap...this again may lead to my prediction of even bigger ratings losses during this turbulent period. However time till will tell if moving Sweeps to March will make any difference in the ratings.
Does Anyone Still Have An Old Antenna-type TV?