'Enterprise' Remains November Sweeps Hit

By Christian
December 7, 2001 - 7:32 PM

Despite dropping below the 8 million viewers the series regularly attracted in October, Enterprise still finished the November sweeps a bona fide hit, improving by more than 40% on last year's Voyager ratings.

According to new figures from MediaWeek, Enterprise was watched by an average audience of just under 7 million people during the November sweeps. Compared to the slightly less than 5 million people who watched Voyager during last year's sweeps, that represents a 41% rise.

In total household ratings, measuring the percentage of American households with televisions watching the show, the story is similar. Enterprise achieved an average 4.5 rating, which compared with Voyager's 3.2 also represents a rise of more than 40%.

The November sweeps are one of several periods in the year when television ratings in all local television markets are measured, making them very important in setting ad rates for local stations.

Looking at each of the Enterprise episodes separately, the series has been performing rather consistently, with only the exception of 'Fortunate Son':

  • 'Breaking the Ice' - As previously reported, Enterprise's first November episode was watched by 7.36 million, the highest audience the show attracted all month. The episode achieved a 4.9 rating with an 8 share, which was 63% above the comparable Voyager episode last year, 'Inside Man.'

  • 'Civilization' - A week later, the viewership for 'Civilization' dropped slightly to 7.14 million, due mostly to the successful premiere of Fox sitcom The Bernie Mac Show. This episode achieved a 4.6 rating / 7 share, outperforming Voyager's 'Body and Soul' by 28%.

  • 'Fortunate Son' - Easily the worst-performing episode of the November sweeps, 'Fortunate Son' also scored the lowest Enterprise rating ever. The episode was watched by only 6.11 million people, and received no more than a 3.8 rating. This rather low rating is easily explained, however: the show aired the night before Thanksgiving, when traditionally very few people watch television, and indeed the episode's market share remained the same with 7%. 'Fortunate Son' still managed to outperform last year's 'Nightingale' by 36%.

  • 'Cold Front' - Finally, last week's temporal cold war story 'Cold Front' managed to rebound again, attracting 7.33 million viewers, only a slightly smaller number than that for 'Fortunate Son.' The episode received a 4.7 rating with an 8 share and improved on Voyager's 'Flesh and Blood' telemovie by 38%.
During all four weeks, Enterprise consistently was the top-rated UPN show, ending up anywhere between no. 70 and no. 81 on the chart of best-performing network shows - on average 15 places above Voyager's positions last year. Some other strong UPN shows were Buffy the Vampire Slayer and WWF Smackdown!

While still high, these ratings are clearly below those the show scored in October, when it regularly attracted more than 8 million viewers. However, at the time the series had only just premiered, and still had to go through the initial audience drop any new television series experiences after its debut. Hopefully for UPN, Enterprise's viewership will now have finally stabilised at around seven million viewers.

For analysts at publications ranging from MediaWeek to Variety, Enterprise remains one of this season's most successful series, and a major reason for UPN's increased ratings this year. As noted by the Futon Critic, Enterprise managed to increase the average ratings of UPN in the Wednesday 8pm timeslot by more than 130%, more than any other primetime series, clearly making it UPN's biggest programming triumph in years.

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