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TrekToday - UPN Experiencing Disastrous Sweeps

UPN Experiencing Disastrous Sweeps

By Antony
February 15, 2003 - 12:04 PM

Figures for the February sweeps period so far show that UPN is losing its viewers.

Indications are that viewership for the network has fallen to an average 3.64m, according to Marc Berman at MediaWeek, a drop of 23% compared to the last year's February sweeps. NBC was the only other network to show a drop, falling 13% to 12.64m. Nearest competitor the WB saw a 19% rise to 4.67m, whilst ABC achieved a 27% rise to 10.87m and Fox a 22% rise to 11.04. UPN sister-network CBS came tops with a 18% rise to 12.91m.

UPN also saw a drop in the important 18-49 demographic, falling 20% to 1.6/4. Meanwhile NBC had a slightly worse drop, falling 22% to 5.0/13. Again, all other networks posted an increase. The WB rose 24% to 2.1/5, CBS a 16% rise to 3.6/9, ABC a 28% rise to 4.1/11 and Fox ruled the demographic with a 24% increase to 5.1/13.

Much of UPN's change in fortunes is probably due to the collapse of flagship shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enterprise. Back in 2002, the first February sweeps episodes of Buffy came third for the network, scoring 3.3. However, its first sweeps episode in 2003 only managed to come fifth for the network scoring a 2.4, a drop-off of around 27%. Enterprise ratings paint a similar picture. Last year 'Shadows of P'Jem' scored a 3.8/6 rating as the first sweeps episode, but this year 'Stigma' only brought in a 2.9/4, a drop-off of about 24%.

That's not to say Buffy and Enterprise are totally to blame for the drop in ratings — other timeslots have proved problematic to the network too, such as Tuesdays at 9pm (the Buffy lead-out slot). Roswell was performing poorly in the time slot, and ended last year, but it still performed better than short-lived replacement Haunted. It also managed a stronger performance in the sweeps period than Abby has done this year in its old timeslot.

These figures are based upon numbers so far for February. As the sweeps period is important for networks (as the viewing figures dictate advertising costs for the year) UPN executives will undoubtedly be hoping for an improvement in the rest of the month.

The original MediaWeek article can be found here.


UPN has announced the end of its Disney children's programming.

For three years Disney has provided 12 hours of programming per week to UPN, which was shown time on weekdays and Sunday morning. Programmes included Digimon, Legend of Tarzan and Recess. However, after seeing ratings decline Disney decided to pull the plug.

UPN initially explored alternatives to the kids' programming, but decided to release the time to affiliates for their own local programming.

More information can be found here at Yahoo! News and here at MediaWeek.


Viacom, owner of UPN and Paramount, has reported record fourth-quarter financial results.

The company made a profit of $652.4m in the last quarter of 2002, according to the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News). This compares to a loss of $42.5m for the same period the year before.

Revenues for the quarter were up to $6.78 US billion, up 12 percent from $6.04 US billion. This took total yearly revenues to $24.61 US billion, up from $23.22 US billion.

"Our fourth quarter and full year results are yet another indication that Viacom has the right assets, the right management and the right strategy to continue to grow year after year," said chairman and chief executive Sumner M. Redstone. "Our performance in 2002 is but a forerunner of what we expect to accomplish in 2003."

However, continuing worries over president and COO of Viacom Mel Karmazin's future with the company (story) helped shares close down 2.6%.

The original article can be found here at Yahoo! News.

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