->'''Heather:''' Gail, save me!\\
'''[[StrawmanNewsMedia Gail Hailstorm]]''': ''(recording her death)'' Sorry, kid, but it's sweeps!

The periods when advertising rates are set, based on the {{ratings}} received by the programs shown at that time. Every network pulls out its big guns to get as large an audience as possible for its shows, so as to maximize its revenues for the coming quarter.

Happens four times a year (February, May, July and November), but you always know when they're here, because incredibly obvious [[RatingsStunt programming stunts]] abound -- news programs start running features like "[[CouldThisHappenToYou Group Sex In Our Community]]" and [[SpecialGuest Special Guests]] pop up on ''every'' SitCom. Local news programs are probably the most notorious for this; locally-made programming makes far more money for the station (since they don't have to share with the network), and these days, news programs are usually the only local content a station has, so the ad blitz goes there.

The [[http://homepage.mac.com/ijball/ratv/FAQL/section-3.6.html rec.arts.tv FAQ ]] explains sweeps in more detail.

It's rare to see a rerun during sweeps. It's rare to see a new episode in any other month. Almost all reality series will try to have either their premieres or finales during these periods, often both through straddling two periods, if possible.
!!Examples of common [[RatingsStunt Ratings Stunts]] during sweeps include:
* CelebrityStar
* CliffHanger
* CouldThisHappenToYou
* FaceHeelTurn / HeelFaceTurn
* NakedPeopleAreFunny
* RippedFromTheHeadlines
* SpecialGuest
* SweepsWeekLesbianKiss
* TonightSomeoneDies
* TonightSomeoneKisses
* VerySpecialEpisode