Nielsen Top 10, January 1st – January 7th, 1973

Here are the first ten programs from the seventeenth week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, January 1st, 1973 through Sunday, January 7th. If you’ve been paying close attention you’ll notice that the fifteenth week ran from December 18th to December 24th. So where’s the missing week? It was a Nielsen “black week,” which meant readings weren’t recorded. You can read more about black weeks here.

There were a total of 62 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on January 22nd, 1973. Not a single movie night or special was able to crack the Top Ten, unless you count McCloud, a segment of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. The week was topped by All in the Family on CBS. For the week as a whole, CBS averaged a 21.0 rating, NBC was just a hair behind with a 20.8 rating and ABC brought up the rear with a 17.5 rating.

Here’s the Top Ten, complete with Nielsen ratings:

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 35.4
2. Sanford & Son CBS 29.5
3. Ironside NBC 29.2
4. Hawaii 5-O CBS 27.2
5. Walt Disney NBC 26.2
6. NBC Sunday Mystery Movie (McCloud) NBC 26.0
7. Bridget Loves Bernie CBS 25.8
8. Medical Center CBS 24.8
9. The Flip Wilson Show NBC 24.6
10. Adam-12 NBC 24.6

Here’s how the networks fared on Thursday, January 4th. ABC aired The Mod Squad, The Men and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law. CBS broadcast The Waltons and The CBS Thursday Movie, which was the first half of The Sand Pebbles. NBC filled its schedule with The Flip Wilson Show, Ironside and The Dean Martin Show.

 8:00PM 17.4/26 (avg) 18.9/29 (avg) 19.5/30 (avg)
 8:30PM 17.4/26 18.9/29 19.5/30
 9:00PM 11.2/17 (avg) 18.5/30 (avg) 29.2/45 (avg)
 9:30PM 11.2/17 18.5/30 29.2/45
10:00PM 17.7/30 (avg) 18.5/30 17.9/30 (avg)
10:30PM 17.7/30 18.5/30 17.9/30
Average 15.4/24 18.6/29 23.9/37

NBC easily won the night. But The Dean Martin Show squandered its Ironside lead-in, dropping from a huge 29.2 Nielsen rating to a second-place 17.9 rating. That put it barely ahead of ABC’s Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, which was able to capitalize on NBC’s weakness and grow nicely out of The Men (which ranked 61st out of 62 programs for the week). Had The Men averaged around a 17.0 Nielsen rating it would have allowed ABC to rank a competitive third for the evening.

For the record, the second half of The Sand Pebbles, broadcast as part of The CBS Friday Movie, managed to perform slightly better than the first half, with a 19.0/30 Nielsen rating, placing it 33rd out of 62 programs for the week, compared to the 18.5/30 for the first half, which placed it 38th.

“Family, Sanford top National Nielsens.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Jan. 1972: F16.

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2 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, January 1st – January 7th, 1973”

  1. Note that, even though “BRIDGET LOVES BERNIE” was the 7th highest-rated series of that week (especially if you followed the #1 series, “ALL IN THE FAMILY”), the outcry from religious groups over the fictional mixed marriage of a Catholic and Jew forced CBS to cancel it at the end of the season. A shame…

    So, CBS’ strengths lay in their Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday night schedules. NBC’s rested with Sunday, Thursday (even though “THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW” was starting to slip) and Friday (“SANFORD & SON” aired on NBC, not “CBS”, as listed). Both networks had 5 of the “Top 10” that week….leaving ABC out in the cold {this really wasn’t a great season for them}. In fact, “THE MOD SQUAD”, cancelled at the end of the ’72-’73 season, was slowly being replaced by CBS’ “THE WALTONS” as the #2 show at 8pm(et) on Thursdays; the following season, they finished off “THE FLIP WILSON SHOW” on NBC to become #1.

  2. On January 2nd, 1973, the ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’ aired the 90-minute backdoor pilot FIREHOUSE, an attempt by ABC to create their own version of NBC’s Saturday hit ‘Emergency!’. The pilot got a surprising 21.9HH/33% rating, and within a few months, ABC ordered up ‘Firehouse’ as a mid-season replacement series for the 1973-74 season, although the series underwent tinkering with concept and a major cast overhaul before it went into production.

    When ABC put together their mid-season changes, they moved ‘Toma’ away from the Thursdays at 8 pm timeslot to Fridays at 10 pm in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the series that would ultimately be recast and re-booted the following fall as ‘Baretta’. ‘Firehouse’ the series was skedded for Thursday nights at 8:30 pm out of another mid-seasoner ‘Chopper One’ at 8 pm. Both series went up against CBS’s ‘The Waltons’ and ‘The Flip Wilson Show’.

    By the end of the 1973-74 season, ‘ Chopper One’ ended up with a 15.1HH average, and ‘Firehouse’ rated a bit better at 15.7HH, both running in third place. ABC chose to cancel both series, despite ‘Firehouse’ ending its first season with a cliffhanger ending that was never resolved (literally, a key character was trapped in a burning house precariously perched atop a cliff and about to slide into a valley).

    I do believe these two ABC rescue series (together with the mid-season ‘Dirty Sally’ on CBS which was also cancelled) may have been the last three half-hour primetime dramas ordered up by one of the broadcast networks. Although ‘Adam-12’ was still highly rated and remained on the air a few more seasons, I cannot think of another new half-hour drama that was ordered to production after the 1973-74 season…every half-hour thereafter was a sitcom or reality skein.

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