November is many things to many people.
Thanksgiving. The first taste of “winter” weather. The start of the holiday shopping season. Ohio State vs. Michigan.
For those who work in television news, however, it's sweaty-palm time. As ratings periods go, only May is considered more important than November.
This year, Nielsen Media Research's “November sweeps” begin in October. The four-week ratings period runs Thursday through Nov. 26.
Although November is the last of four ratings periods in a calendar year (the others are in February, May, and July), it is the first of the 2003-04 television season. It's the first opportunity for Toledo viewers -- those with Nielsen diaries, anyway -- to weigh in on the new season.
Lead-in network programs can impact -- either positively or negatively -- the ratings of late-night newscasts.
As a Fox affiliate, WUPW-TV, Channel 36, has a 10 p.m. newscast. When asked to assess the upcoming ratings period, news director Jose Suarez made reference to the link between network shows and newscasts.
“This is a huge book for us,” he said. “We have high hopes for our new network lead-in shows like The Next Joe Millionaire, The O.C., and returning shows like Bernie Mac and Boston Public.”
November is typically a tough month for WUPW's newscast because it goes up against first-run programming on the other network affiliates -- WTOL-TV, Channel 11 (CBS); WTVG-TV, Channel 13 (ABC); and WNWO-TV, Channel 24 (NBC).
In some markets, “sweeps” pieces on local newscasts can rival The Jerry Springer Show for outrageousness. Toledo, by comparison, is relatively conservative.
Here's what to expect: