Nielsen agrees to move May sweep


The Nielsen Company has agreed to the move requested by COLTAM back in June to reschedule the 2009 May Sweep by a week to avoid Memorial Day. The new dates are April 23 to May 20.

With the February Sweep already rescheduled to March because of the DTV transition, the May Sweep will be the first regular sweep after the analog shutdown. Broadcasters had pushed for the date change because they didn’t want a holiday interfering with normal viewing patterns. “I didn’t find anybody who objected,” said COLTAM Chair Billy McDowell, VP of Research for Raycom.

RBR/TVBR asked why it took so long for Nielsen to make its decision. “We had to consult with a variety of clients and achieve a consensus,” said VP Gary Holmes. With the May Sweep starting one week earlier, the April 2009 survey for Local People Meter markets only will become a three week survey, running April 2-22 and there will be an additional non-reported week of May 21-27. Those are the only other changes resulting from the sweep date change.

The outcome pleased Media General Director of Research Brad Nimmons, who told RBR/TVBR the original sweep schedule would have included a useless week four due to the holiday. “It helps to return us to normalcy afgter the February DTV event and the March Sweep,” said Nimmons, who praised Lisa Heimann, VP, Research (Local, Late Night & Digital) at ABC Television, for being one of the first to recognize the problem and push for a change.

Due to the DTV transition in mid-February, Nielsen had already moved the usual February Sweep to March, which put it out of step with the usual ratings comparisons. The May Sweep, then, was supposed to be April 30 to May 27, including Memorial Day on May 25. As requested by COLRAM and the NAB TV Board, Nielsen has now agreed to change the sweep period to run April 23 to May 20.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a clean sweep in May,” said McDowell. “We’re pleased that we were able to get an industry consensus on this,” he said of the date change. “Nielsen responded to the clients, so it’s good all around for everybody,” McDowell concluded.

RBR/TVBR observation: Kudos to Nielsen for taking its customers’ concerns seriously and reacting. It doesn’t appear that anyone will be injured by this change, while broadcasters and advertisers will be better served.