The NYTimes ponders the end of sweeps, a possibility thanks to Nielson Local People Meters, the new TV-audience gauge I've already confessed love for.
If LPMs mean the end of Channel 11's icky restaurant inspections, I'm for 'em. But I'm not for the end of national TV events like the Oscars, the foremost Sweeps-timed broadcast. Like the Super Bowl, American Idol final or the last episode of Friends, TV events give us all something to talk about the next day at work. You can discuss the Super Bowl with anyone. You don't have to know about football and you don't have to worry about offending anyone's political sensibilities. Isn't that nice? And after you're done talking, you can plug into your iPod and go back to ignoring everyone.
A few years ago, interactive agencies made much over the report that 500,000 Sims players kissed online on New Year's Eve. This, they said, was the first hint of the unifying power of online media and games. Maybe so. But I think we still need and love the big, national TV event. At least once every Sweeps period.