Nielsen Bottom 15 for the First Two Weeks of the 1965-1966 Season

For the most part when newspapers or magazines reported the Nielsen ratings in decades past only the Top Twenty or Top Forty programs were listed. Whether this was due to restrictions enforced by Nielsen (these days the company is very protective of its data) or an editorial decision is beside the point. What is important is that on October 12th, 1965 The New York Times reported both the Top Forty and the Bottom 15 programs for the first two weeks of the 1965-1966 season. The period in question ran from Monday, September 13th through Sunday, September 26th. All the way at the bottom with a 4.8 Nielsen rating was CBS Reports. Topping the chart was NBC’s Bonanza with a 31.1 rating.

One reason for the poor performance of these shows was their time slot. Killer competition on the other two networks would result in low ratings regardless of quality. ABC’s The Donna Reed Show, for example, was up against Gilligan’s Island (14, 22.3) on CBS and Daniel Boone (37th, 19.3) on NBC. The combined rating for the three programs was a 52.5, meaning more than half of all television households in the country were watching the networks (the share of the audience, or the number of televisions in use at the time, was likely close to 90%).

Here’s the complete list of the Bottom 15 programs. New shows are marked:

##ProgramNetworkRating
82.RawhideCBS12.7
83.The Steve Lawrence Show (New)CBS12.6
84.Amos BurkeABC12.5
85.Jimmy DeanABC12.3
86.The Trials of O’Brien (New)CBS11.9
 The King FamilyABC11.9
88.Ozzie and HarrietABC11.4
89.Camp Runamuck (New)NBC10.9
 The Donna Reed ShowABC10.9
91.Slattery’s PeopleCBS10.5
92.Hank (New)NBC10.1
93.Shindig IABC9.7
94.Shindig II (New)ABC9.6
95.Convoy (New)NBC9.3
96.CBS ReportsCBS4.8

Works Cited:

Adams, Val. “‘Bonanza’ Leads Nielsen TV Poll.” New York Times. 12 Oct. 1956: 95.

10 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    This was the reason “RAWHIDE” was cancelled in January 1966; after six seasons, the network made the mistake of scheduling it opposite ABC’s “COMBAT!” on Tuesdays (which had better ratings than that AND NBC’s combo of “MY MOTHER THE CAR” and “PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES”). Besides, it was time for Clint Eastwood to become a movie star, anyway…

    “THE STEVE LAWRENCE SHOW”was a New York-based variety show on Mondays at 10pm(et)- but it was no match for NBC’s new “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE”, and was replaced by “ART LINKLETTER’S TALENT SCOUTS” that December. But even that couldn’t stand up to Ben Gazzara…and what was left of ABC’s ‘BEN CASEY” (which also disappeared, in March 1966). ”

    “AMOS BURKE- SECRET AGENT” was a BIG mistake; “BURKE’S LAW” producer Aaron Spelling was dead set against converting Gene Barry’s rich police detective into an “international spy” (as was he), but ABC insisted the series needed “juicing up” {and ride the “spy bandwagon” the other networks boarded after the success of NBC’s “THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.”}….the “new” Amos Burke was up against NBC’s more successful “I SPY” and CBS’ ‘THE DANNY KAYE SHOW” [then in its third season] on Wednesdays, and vanished in January.

    After two successful seasons, Jimmy Dean, with his easy-going country-flavored variety show, faced competition on Fridays from “THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.” and the soon-to-be cancelled “SLATTERY’S PEOPLE”, a now-forgotten political drama starring Richard Crenna and Ed Asner. Dean was gone by the end of the season.

    Ozzie & Harriet Nelson had been comfortably scheduled on Thursday nights during the early ’60s. In the fall of ’65, ABC moved the Nelson family to Wednesdays, directly opposite NBC’s “THE VIRGINIAN” (in essence, a weekly 90 minute Western movie with a continuing cast) and CBS’ “LOST IN SPACE”. Even with the series being filmed in color for the first time, ratings dropped to the point where ABC virtually buried it on Saturdays opposite Jackie Gleason and “FLIPPER” that January. It was shortly after that move Ozzie & Harriet announced that, after 22 consecutive years on radio [1944-'54] and television [1952-'66], there would be no more of their “ADVENTURES” after the current season. They also wanted to take time off to relax and pursue other interests as well…

    Get your score cards out for this next explanation: “THE KING FAMILY SHOW”, a VERY wholesome variety series in the vein of Lawrence Welk’s {which preceeded “Mr. Champagne Music Maker”, incidentally}, with the entire King family front and center, was a mid-season replacement for “THE OUTER LIMITS” in January 1965, and was one of the few programs to give Jackie Gleason a run for his influence and audience on Saturdays. ABC decided to cut the show to a half-hour that fall and fill the 7:30 time period before it with another half-hour of “SHINDIG!” [that was also the season they "stretched the soup" by splitting that into TWO weekly half-hours, the first on Thursdays where 'THE ADVENUTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET" had been]…which was a HUGE mistake, as Jackie Gleason and “FLIPPER” got most of the mainstream audience, and “I DREAM OF JEANNIE” lured the rest of them away from the Kings (WHO could compete against Barbara Eden??) just enough for ABC to replace it with “THE DONNA REED SHOW” {which was losing ground on Thursdays against “DANIEL BOONE” and “GILLIGAN’S ISLAND”, as described above}…and the result was the King Family and “SHINDIG!” vanished in January, and “THE DONNA REED SHOW”, directly against fellow Screen Gems/Columbia sitcom “JEANNIE” (A Sidney Sheldon Production), was gone by the summer of 1966, after eight seasons.

    Now, I liked ‘CAMP RUNAMUCK”- I watched it more than “THE FLINTSTONES” on Fridays. I did NOT watch “THE WILD WILD WEST”…which more viewers did, with the result that the other two vanished at the end of the season. Same with “HANK”, which followed “RUNAMUCK” at 8pm(et). It was primarily sponsored by A.T.&T. {“The Bell System”, YOUR telephone company}, and constantly stressed in their small newspaper advertisements {which appeared regularly in the LONG BRANCH DAILY RECORD} that the show was “chuckle-full of entertainment for family viewing”. The series, created by Garry Marshall & Jerry Belson for Warner Bros., was about a young guy who literally sneaks into college classes without being registered so he can complete his degree and care for his younger sister at the same time. Lots of disguises and “confusion” abounded…but not enough families tuned in for A.T.&T. to renew their sponsorship, and the series ended after one season.

    “CONVOY” was MCA/Universal’s answer to its own “WAGON TRAIN” (cancelled the season before), substituting a U.S. naval convoy during World War II for settlers trudging along vast stretches of the “Old West”, and Japs and Germans for Indians. “HOGAN’S HEROES”, a satire on World World II movies involving military “prisoner-of-war” camps {“STALAG 17″, in partucular} was more popular on CBS (that also deal a death blow to ABC’s “THE ADDAMS FAMILY”, ratings-wise), and ‘GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.” virtually finished it as well [along with its 9pm rival, ABC's "HONEY WEST"].

    FINALLY {yay!}, “CBS REPORTS” was CBS founder and chairman William Paley’s pride and joy; he was proud of the fact that it was the ONLY hour-long weekly network documentary in prime-time that covered virtually every major and minor subject and issue, newsworthy or not; he defended it against CBS president James T. Aubrey {“The Smiling Cobra”} when he often insisted on cancelling it in favor of an entertainment show that earned a higher rating (and more ad revenue). No matter how many times he tried to sabotage the series by moving it from one “undesirable” time period to another, Aubrey left the network in February 1965, yet “CBS REPORTS” stayed- low ratings or not- continuing until 1971. It also attracted “prestigious” advertisers as well.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Oh, yes, I forgot “THE TRIALS OF O’BRIEN”, Peter Falk’s first TV series, in which he portrayed a rumpled, down-on-his-luck New York attorney with the same panache as his rumpled, crafty police lieutenant “COLUMBO” {on the “NBC MYSTERY MOVIE”} a few years later. CBS thought they’d had a winner with this one when they scheduled it right after Jackie Gleason on Saturday nights. But “GET SMART” and Lawrence Welk forced the show to Fridays at 10pm in November, where “THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.” and what remained of “THE JIMMY DEAN SHOW” finished it off in the spring of ’66…

  • Mike Spadoni says:

    There was another interesting development in the 1965-66 season: The increase in color programs. It was not surprising RCA-owned NBC would have the most shows in color (that season, only “I DREAM OF JEANNIE” and “CONVOY” were the sole NBC black and white programs). As a result, only three NBC shows landed in the bottom 15–including “CONVOY”. (I agree with you, Barry–it was hard to stop the fetching Barbara Eden, color or not.)
    From what I remember, just half of CBS’ prime time lineup was broadcast in color that season, and the black and white shows were the ones that suffered most in the ratings as more viewers bought color sets. ABC’s situation was even worse; only a relative handful of that network’s offerings were broadcast in color, and that may have hastened the decline in its monocrome offerings (“DONNA REED” and “OZZIE & HARRIET”) for instance. If it weren’t for the midseason success of “BATMAN”, the 1965-66 season would have been a near disaster for ABC.
    Of course, by the fall of ’66, all three networks had full color in prime time. The era of tint had begun.

  • pBOB says:

    It seems the 2009 HANK will most likely meet the same fate as the 1966 HANK.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    As noted in a previous article, Mike, the ratio of color to black and white programming in network prime-time was approximately:

    NBC- 95%
    As you said, Mike, “I DREAM OF JEANNIE” and “CONVOY” were the execptions; creator/producer Sidney Sheldon wanted “JEANNIE” in color from the start, but even after offering to PAY the extra $400 per episode for color filming, a Screen Gems executive declared, “Sidney, don’t throw your money away”. Sheldon later wrote in his autobiography that he was sure the studio and NBC believed “JEANNIE” wouldn’t last a full season. Well, he knew what HE was doing, and they didn’t- after the series became a bonafide success, they finally allowed him to film the last two episodes of the season one production schedule in color: “The Fastest Gun In the East” and “Jeannie Breaks the Bank” (just to see how the show would look in full color; this also meant a new harem outfit for Barbara, the one we continue to drool over today), and those were scheduled for season two, when the show was FINALLY converted to full “Living Color” for the fall of ’66. “CONVOY”, on the other hand, could not be filmed in color because the producers couldn’t find vintage World War II color battle footage to “blend” into each episode.

    CBS- 50%
    CBS executives finally convinced Bill Paley, “Mr. CBS”, to schedule at least half of the network’s prime-time schedule in color for the fall of 1965, after six years of his unofficial “no color” edict. Paley didn’t want to schedule ANY color shows after 1959, due to his rivary with “General” David Sarnoff of RCA/NBC. Paley believed that if CBS telecast weekly color series in prime-time, they’d only help sell more RCA Victor color sets…”and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the General do that”, he once confided to a close aide. CBS marketed black and white TV sets in the ’50s, but the company they acquired to manufacture them took a financial bath, and went out of business in 1961. That “hurt” Paley, and that’s why he refused to let Sarnoff and RCA have “the advantage” when it came to color TV sales. Finally, Paley had to admit his executives had a point, and “allowed” regular color programs on the network’s schedule, but “carefully”. New series, such as “LOST IN SPACE”, ‘THE WILD WILD WEST”, “THE TRIALS OF O”BRIEN”, “THE LONER” and ‘THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW” were filmed in black and white, while other esatblished hits, including Jackie Gleason, “THE MUNSTERS”, “CANDID CAMERA” and “WHAT’S MY LINE?” continued to be seen in monochrome. But “LASSIE”, ‘MY FAVORITE MARTIAN”, “THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES”, “PETTICOAT JUNCTION”, “GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.” and “THE DANNY KAYE SHOW” were “converted” to full color for ’65. “MY THREE SONS”, acquired from producer Don Fedderson by the network for the fall of ’65, moved from ABC to CBS, filmed in color for the first time. “HOGAN’S HEROES”, whose pilot was filmed in black and white, aired as a color series after CBS bought it. Even a February 1966 episode of “PERRY MASON” was filmed in color to see how it would look for a projected tenth season {“The Case of the Twice-Told Twist”}, but the series ultimately ended after nine seasons in ’66. CBS was definitely looking towards the future in terms of color programming.

    ABC- 40%
    They, on the other hand, still suffered from a somewhat shaky financial set-up, and were hampered by the ability to transmit color programming to ALL its affiliates [Remember the notices in TV GUIDE where it would list some ABC shows in color, and, at the bottom of the description, this small discliamer appeared- "Channel 8 will not colorcast this program"?]. They tried with a few new color offerings: “THE FBI” (the most enduring of the new shows that fall, lasting nine seasons- they had a “rich” sponsor, Ford Motor Company), “THE BIG VALLEY” (another success, lasting four seasons), “GIDGET”, “O.K. CRACKERBY!” and “TAMMY” (those three were gone by the end of the season). “THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW” and “THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE” successfully converted to color videotape…and “VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA” went to color after its first season, to healthy ratings on Sundays….but “THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE & HARRIET”‘s conversion to color, after 13 comfortable seasons of monochrome, came too late to help its ratings, as was “THE FARMER’S DAUGHTER” in its third season. There were some new color offerings in mid-season (and they ended after half a season)- “THE DOUBLE LIFE OF HENRY PHYFE”, “BLUE LIGHT” and “COURT-MARTIAL”…and then there was “BATMAN”. But virtually all of ABC’s new and remaining black and white shows (save for “BEWITCHED”, “COMBAT!”, “PEYTON PLACE”, “12 O’CLOCK HIGH” and “THE FUGITIVE”) were cancelled after the 1965-’66 season.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    OOPS…forgot to mention “GILLIGAN’S ISLAND”, which also converted to color for the fall of ’65…it’s available in that box set advertised on the right- IF that little box is still there.

  • Mike Spadoni says:

    Thanks for the detail, Barry; I knew I could count on you.
    Regarding ABC’s color situation, the author of the book “Inside ABC” noted that the network borrowed $25 million from ITT to upgrade its color broadcasting abilities. (ITT had planned to buy ABC before the Justice Department threatened to stop the deal in court; the buyout was cancelled on New Years Day 1968.)
    I suspect the ITT loan allowed ABC to finally have a full color prime time lineup by the fall of 1966 (though its evening news and daytime shows would not be broadcast in full color for another year).
    A quick note about CBS color: As has been pointed out in the past, “THE LUCY SHOW” had been filmed in color since its second season (1963-64); it was a business decision by Lucille Ball to make the shows more attractive in future syndication runs. But because of the Paley edict, “LUCY” would not air in color until the fall of 1965.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Thank YOU, Mike.

    As for CBS’ unofficial “no color” edict, that’s exactly why “THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW” wound up with exactly two seasons in black and white and two in color…and couldn’t be sold into syndication because not enough color episodes were filmed. When the series began on NBC in the fall of 1961, it was in black and white. It was successful enough to be renewed for season two. Like “HAZEL”, which also converted to “Living Color” in the fall of 1962, NBC wanted Joey in color- and primary sponsor Lorillard Tobacco [York, Newport] HAD the money (as Ford did with ‘HAZEL”) to sustain the show in full color (the better to show off their colorful cigarette packs in their commercials). It was one of the few situation comedies {along with “HAZEL”} to be telecast in color at the time. That may have been a factor in Lucy’s decision to film her series in color from season two onward, even though CBS continued to telecast it in black and white.

    But NBC cancelled “THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW” after its second color season in 1964. Apparently, Danny Thomas, who co-produced it with Bishop, convinced CBS to renew it for a fourth season, just as he was leaving the network for a new contract with NBC to appear in occasional specials. CBS, however, became a production partner in Joey’s series, and insisted it revert to black and white film, as they weren’t telecasting ANYTHING in color and certainly weren’t going to spend the extra money to film another color season.

    That became the “kiss of death” for the show. Joey had hoped enough color episodes would have been filmed to enable him to sell the show into syndication [he had no intention of including the first season of 32 episodes in ANY syndicated package because he was dissatisfied with those; he considered season two the "official beginning" of the series]. There were 65 color episodes in seasons two and three; he was counting on at least another 26 to “complete the package”…but CBS insisted on filming them in black and white- and Jim Aubrey really didn’t want Joey on CBS, and privately fumed at the deal Danny Thomas had made with the network for them to carry the show; “The Smiling Cobra” insisted on making all major programming decisions himself, without “middlemen” like agents and “packagers” like Thomas interferring with HIS plans. So he “sabotaged” it by deliberately scheduing Joey opposite “BONANZA” in the fall of ’64 {right after “MY LIVING DOLL”}, then “COMBAT!” in mid-season before Aubrey was bounced from the network. By then, the ratings were…..enough for CBS to cancel the show at the end of the season. 65 color and 26 black and white episodes were not “attractive” enough for local stations to “strip” Joey five days a week, and that’s why his series was “buried” until the late ’80s, when it was revived on cable TV. Until then, Joey insisted for years that all prints of the show had been “destroyed”, THAT’S how bitter he was at CBS for destroying his chance to be a sitcom “evergreen”, like his friend and production partner Danny Thomas.

  • HCH says:

    “But virtually all of ABC’s new and remaining black and white shows (save for “BEWITCHED”, “COMBAT!”, “PEYTON PLACE”, “12 O’CLOCK HIGH” and “THE FUGITIVE”) were cancelled after the 1965-’66 season.”

    One notable exception: F TROOP, which was in the top 25 for much of the season (I believe it ended up in the low 30′s) despite being in B&W and opposite THE RED SKELTON SHOW. It was switched to color for the 1966-67 season. Also syndicated quite successfully for a long time despite only having 65 episodes and a mere 31 in color.

  • W.B. says:

    One other factor besides competitive reasons that CBS’s Bill Paley signed on to increase his network’s color programming starting in the 1965-66 season was on the technical side. In 1965, Philips introduced a new live three-tube color studio camera that was marketed under the Norelco name and branded the PC-60. The cameras had a new pickup tube, a lead-oxide vidicon tube trademarked by Philips as “Plumbicon.” Besides providing a clear color picture (made even better by sharpening technology developed by engineers at CBS Laboratories), it enabled the network to go color while still holding on to its “anything but RCA” edict for buying broadcast equipment. They would later (starting in early 1966) purchase the first production model PC-70′s which had the same “round applied edges” (per Chuck Pharis’ verbiage) as the PC-60, rather than the “square molded handles” with which the PC-70 (as well as the later PC-72 and the British-marketed PC-80) would subsequently be associated. (However, this “anything but RCA” dictum did not necessarily apply to most of its owned-and-operated stations; four of the five O&O’s – WBBM-TV Chicago, KNXT [now KCBS-TV] Los Angeles, WCAU-TV Philadelphia [now an NBC O&O] and KMOX-TV St. Louis [now a mere affiliate] – acquired RCA TK-27 film chains [see next paragraph for the network film chains] when going color, and WCAU even purchased the infamous RCA TK-42 studio cameras [while the other three stations went with Marconi Mark VII cameras].)

    At the time CBS’s major New York studios and nerve center moved from Grand Central terminal to the Broadcast Center on West 57th Street in 1964, the color film chains used (for the few times they transmitted in color up to this point, notably for annual presentations of “The Wizard of Oz”) were vintage RCA TK-26 chains that were previously in use at the old “Studio 72″ on 81st Street and Broadway that CBS disposed of in 1964 (that studio was later used by Reeves Teletape and was the first home of the long-running “Sesame Street” as well as of the original 1971-77 “Electric Company”). However, in 1966, CBS replaced their TK-26′s with a new color film chain camera manufactured by General Electric, the PE-240 (which, like RCA’s TK-27, had four vidicon tubes). Their PE-240′s, however, had rounded, curved edges on the camera head, unlike the straight edges on the prior PE-24 model, later model PE-240′s, or the PE-245 which was the last film chain developed by GE – and carried on by Harris’ Gates division after GE sold its broadcast equipment division to Harris in 1972. Because CBS’s chief flagship, WCBS-TV New York, was under the same roof as CBS network, the station used the same equipment as the network – for many years after 1966, Norelco PC-70 studio and GE PE-240 film chain cameras. (Some, to this day, swear that TV stations that used GE PE-24 or 240 or 245 chains provided a better picture of color film or slide reproduction than the TK-27, considering the limitations all such equipment were operated under in those days.)

    One of the earliest cases of an “anything but RCA” policy in buying new broadcast equipment at CBS was in 1962-63 when their ancient TK-10/30 and TK-11/31 cameras (with the RCA logo removed, of course) came up for replacement – and the network acquired the British-made, marketed in the U.S. by Ampex, Marconi Mark IV monochrome cameras – the very same model used at the future Ed Sullivan Theatre (then called Studio 50) when The Beatles made their historic first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964.

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