Here are the first ten programs from the twenty-first week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, January 29th, 1973 through Sunday, February 4th. There were a total of 64 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on February 15th, 1973. NBC was able to win the week with an average 21.0 Nielsen rating (up from a 19.7 rating the previous week) in part because of its strong regular programming and the solid performance of NBC Monday Night Movie, but also because CBS basically wrote of the entire evening of Friday, February 2nd, when it broadcast a version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. CBS still manage to rank second with a 19.4, but that was down considerably from a 21.7 rating the previous week, while ABC was a close third for the week with a 19.2 (up from a 17.3 rating).
|1.||All in the Family||CBS||34.7|
|2.||Sanford & Son||NBC||31.0|
|5.||The Mary Tyler Moore Show||CBS||27.9|
|7.||NBC Monday Night Movie||NBC||27.1|
|8.||The Bob Newhart Show||CBS||26.4|
|9.||The ABC Sunday Night Movie||ABC||25.6|
|10.||The Flip Wilson Show||NBC||24.9|
Here’s how the networks fared on Monday, January 29th, 1973. ABC broadcast The Rookies and THE ABC Monday Night Movies. (Lawrence of Arabia, Part 2). CBS aired Gunsmoke, Here’s Lucy, The Doris Day Show and The Bill Cosby Show. NBC’s filled its schedule with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The NBC Monday Night at the Movies (Diary of a Mad Housewife).
Time ABC CBS NBC 8:00PM 21.5/31 (avg) 23.0/33 (avg) 19.1/27 (avg) 8:30PM 21.5/31 23.0/33 19.1/27 9:00PM 17.9/28 (avg) 20.0/29 27.1/42 (avg) 9:30PM 17.9/28 17.0/25 27.1/42 10:00PM 17.9/28 (avg) 11.6/19 (avg) 27.1/42 (avg) 10:30PM 17.9/28 11.6/19 27.1/42 Average 16.3/25 17.7/27 27.9/42
NBC won the evening as a whole thanks to the strong showing for Diary of a Mad Housewife from 9-11PM, despite ranking third during the 8-9PM hour. CBS, on the other hand, won the 8-9PM hour but ranked third for the evening due to a poor showing of The Bill Cosby Show. That left ABC in second place.
On Friday, February 4th, CBS aired a videotaped version of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” produced by Joseph Papp and starring Sam Waterston and Kathleen Widdoes. The three-hour broadcast ranked a dismal 60th out of 64 programs for the week. Obviously, the network ranked third for the evening. Both ABC and NBC aired their regular line-ups: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222 and Love, American Style on ABC; Sanford and Son, Little People, Circle of Fear and The Bobby Darin Show on NBC.
Time ABC CBS NBC 8:00PM 19.3/31 9.5/16 (avg) 31.0/49 8:30PM 23.5/37 9.5/16 22.5/35 9:00PM 22.0/36 (avg) 9.5/16 21.0/34 (avg) 9:30PM 22.0/36 9.5/16 21.0/34 10:00PM 24.4/44 (avg) 9.5/16 16.4/29 (avg) 10:30PM 24.4/44 9.5/16 16.4/29 Average 19.3/38 9.5/16 21.4/35
Notice that the flow of audience for ABC and NBC were direct opposites; ABC saw its audience grow as the evening progressed while NBC saw its audience decline. Still, on the strength of Sanford and Son NBC was able to win the evening with a 21.4 Nielsen rating; ABC ranked a competitive second with a 19.3 rating. However, ABC actually had a larger share of the audience, 38% compared to 35% for NBC. As always, these ratings and shares are based on program averages. Conceivably, CBS could have actually ranked second (or even first) during any given half-hour, with the remainder of the evening rating so poorly that it pulled down the entire average. But that’s unlikely.
The three networks combined averaged a 50.2 Nielsen rating and an 89% share of the audience. The previous Friday (January 26th) the networks averaged a 52.0 Nielsen rating and an 85% share of the audience. In other words, the same number of households were watching television on February 3rd. They just weren’t watching CBS.