The folks at NBC are all excited because they won the November sweeps period.

The question is - why?Oh, the Peacock won its 11th sweeps period in a row and still managed to hold onto a narrow lead over ABC, CBS and Fox. But what it couldn't hang onto was several million of its viewers.

NBC was down a full two ratings points from November 1989 - from a 15.1 last year to a 13.1 this year. That's almost 1.9 million fewer homes, on average, that chose to watch NBC shows.

That 13.1 rating and 22 share was still good enough to beat ABC's 12.8/21 and CBS' 12.1/20. But the winning margin was 13 percent smaller than November last year.

The deeper you delve into these figures, the worse the news becomes for NBC. While the Peacock remains first in overall viewers, almost every key demographic (those viewers advertisers covet and pay big bucks for) shows ABC in the lead.

However, even ABC showed a slight decline from November 1989. The only one of the Big Three networks showing an increase over last year was CBS - and that was just a 10th of a rating point.

Each A.C. Nielsen ratings point represents 931,000 house-holds, and a share represents the percentage of all television households tuned in at any given time.

The Big Three, which used to command more than 90 percent of the viewing audience, saw that figure dwindle even further in November. Their total share of the audience declined to 63 percent - down 3 percent over 1989.

And none of them can be happy about the success of their new shows - or rather, the lack of success of their new shows. With the exception of "America's Funniest People," none of the more than 30 programs that premiered this fall has lit any fires under the viewers.

Fox didn't fare particularly well either; its 6.6 rating and 11 share was an increase of just over 1 percent over November 1989 - and that's not good, considering FBC spent a fortune expanding from three nights of programming to five nights.

THE TOP 10: According to A.C. Nielsen, these were the 10 most-watched series during the November sweeps:

1. "Cheers," NBC; 2. "60 Minutes," CBS; 3. (tie) "Murder, She Wrote," CBS, and "Roseanne," ABC; 5. (tie) "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "America's Funniest People," both ABC.; 7. "Murphy Brown," CBS; 8. "Designing Women," CBS; 9. "Empty Nest," CBS; 10. "The Cosby Show," NBC.

WHO CARES: You may be wondering who cares about all this statistical mumbo jumbo, with the exception of the networks themselves. Well, there are hundreds of television stations across the country who stand to gain or lose big bucks, depending on the results.

"Sweeps" are four ratings periods throughout the year (February, May, November and July) in which the audience is measured in every market in the country - including Salt Lake City. Local stations set their advertising rates by these numbers.

The local results will be available in a couple of weeks, and the financial stability of some of our local stations will depend on those figures.