Nielsen Top Ten, March 5th – March 11th, 1973

Here are the first ten programs from the twenty-sixth week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, March 5th, 1973 through Sunday, March 11th, 1973. There were a total of 62 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on March 21st, 1973. Once again All in the Family was the highest-rated program of the week. Both the ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week (The Letters) and the ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week ranked in the Top Ten (The Six Million Dollar Man). This was the first of three pilot telefilms for The Six Million Dollar Man that led to a weekly series.

CBS won the week with an average 20.6 Nielsen rating (down from a 21.0 rating the previous week), followed by ABC with a 17.6 rating (down from a 17.7 rating) and NBC was a poor third with a 16.4 rating (down from an 18.2 rating). The 4.2 point gap between CBS and NBC was the largest since September of 1964. ABC’s second-place performance came despite its three-hour broadcast of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” which ranked dead last with a 6.5 Nielsen rating. Here’s the Top Ten, complete with Nielsen ratings:

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 33.2
2. Sanford and Son NBC 29.9
3. Hawaii Five-O CBS 28.0
4. Maude CBS 27.8
5. The Bob Newhart Show CBS 26.5
6. The Carol Burnett Show CBS 25.7
7. The Mary Tyler Moore Show CBS 25.5
8. Cannon CBS 24.6
9. ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week ABC 24.4
10. ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week ABC 23.8

Unfortunately, I don’t have the Nielsen shares of the audience for the bulk of the programs broadcast this week (The Los Angeles Times didn’t publish them past the 13th program) so I won’t be analyzing an entire night’s programming the way I typically do. Instead, I’ll just note some of the other programs of interest broadcast during the week. As The Los Angeles Times noted, it was a very poor week for television specials. A Bob Hope special, featuring Phil Harris, Al Hirt and Pete Fountain, broadcast on Wednesday, March 7th from 8:30-9:30PM, ranked 25th for the week with 21.3 rating. It was followed by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Kirk Douglas as Jekyll and Hyde, which ranked 57th with a 9.2 rating.

“There’s No Time For Love, Charlie Brown,” broadcast by CBS on Sunday, March 11th from 7:30-8PM, ranked 31st with a 19.9 rating. ABC broadcast two hour-long pilots as part of The ABC Sunday Night Movie on Sunday, March 11th from 9-11. The first, Harry-O with David Jennsen, would premiere as a weekly series in the fall of 1974. The second, Intertect with Stuart Whitman, was not picked up. The broadcast ranked 44th with a 17.3 rating. The CBS Friday Movie (The Cincinnati Kid), a hasty replacement for Joseph’s Papp’s production of Sticks and Bones, ranked 52nd with a 14.4 rating. Sticks and Bones, a television version of David Rabe’s play, was a story about Vietnam and CBS decided against airing it at the last minute. It would eventually be broadcast in August of 1973.

“Arnold Palmer, American Legend,” an NBC special broadcast from 10-11PM on Friday, March 9th, ranked 58th with an 8.3 rating. CBS Reports ranked 59th with an identical 8.3 rating, followed by The NBC Tuesday Movie (The President’s Analyzt) with a 7.7 rating and NBC’s First Tuesday with a 7.6 rating.

ABC’s aforementioned Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which ran from 8-11PM on Saturday, March 10th, was last with a 6.5 Nielsen rating. It was butchered by the powerful CBS line-up. NBC did marginally better that evening. Emergency! ranked 26th with a 21.9 rating while The NBC Saturday Night Movie (Topkapi) ranked 54th with a 13.3 rating. For the evening as a whole, CBS averaged a 26.4 Nielsen rating, NBC a 16.2 rating and ABC a 6.5 rating. The three networks together averaged a 49.1 rating. The previous week, the networks averaged a 55.1 Nielsen rating on Saturday, March 3rd.

Source:

“‘Journey’ Lands At Bottom of Nielsens.” Los Angeles Times. 21 Mar. 1973: G16.


4 Comments

  • DuMont says:

    Week 26 of the 1972-73 season was absolutely awash with series pilots, plus a few extraordinary specials of the kind we just don’t see anymore.

    THE PILOTS/BACKDOORS
    =================

    In addition to the pilots mentioned by RJ above… CYBORG: SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, the first ‘Harry-O’ pilot (an hour-long chop-down of a 90-minute backdoor; a second ‘Harry-O’ backdoor telefilm, SMILE JENNY, YOU’RE DEAD, would air in February 1974 and lead to a ‘Harry-0’ series pickup), and the ‘Intertect’ pilot….here were the other backdoors and pilots aired during the week:

    Mon.Mar.05 – ‘The ABC Monday Movie Special’: ‘The Fuzz Brothers’ pilot / ‘Doc Elliot’ pilot (ABC) 16.7HH/27% -> ‘The Fuzz Brothers’ starred Mr. Louis Gosset and Mr. Felton Perry as two cop brothers with the unlikely surname of Fuzz. The ‘Doc Elliot’ pilot starring Mr. James Franciscus got a pick-up to series, where it first aired as a once-a-month floating series in the ‘Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law’ timeslot before getting its own mid-season timeslot.

    Mon.Mar.05 – ‘NBC Monday Night at the Movies’: BROCK’S LAST CASE backdoor 22.2HH/36% -> Despite the big rating, NBC took a pass on this series, starring the fine noir film actor Mr. Richard Widmark, as a big city cop retiring to a small town where he becomes sheriff. NBC was quite up on Mr. Widmark though, and persuaded him to reprise his Madigan character (from a theatrical) into a new series as part of their ‘NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie’ series wheel.

    Tue.Mar.06 – ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’: THE LETTERS backdoor 24.4HH/39% -> This was the first of two pilots to get ABC to pick up a romantic anthology series (starring Mr. Henry Jones as the postman). ABC hesitated, and ordered a second pilot LETTERS FROM THREE LOVERS, while NBC commissioned the similarly-themed anthology ‘Love Story’, trying to build on their ‘Police Story’ brand. When ‘Love Story’ bombed, ABC aired the second pilot (which didn’t rate as well), and ultimately passed on the series. Mr. Aaron Spelling was undeterred about selling the Alphabet a romantic series; a few years later he would pitch a pilot for a romantic dramedy series that evolved into ‘Love Boat’.

    Week 26 of the 1972-73 season was absolutely awash with series pilots, plus a few extraordinary specials of the kind we just don’t see anymore.

    In addition to the pilots mentioned by RJ above… CYBORG: SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, the first ‘Harry-O’ pilot (an hour-long chop-down of a 90-minute backdoor; a second ‘Harry-O’ backdoor telefilm, SMILE JENNY, YOU’RE DEAD, would air in February 1974 and lead to a ‘Harry-0’ series pickup), and the ‘Intertect’ pilot….here were the other backdoors and pilots aired during the week:

    Mon.Mar.05 – ‘The ABC Monday Movie Special’: ‘The Fuzz Brothers’ pilot / ‘Doc Elliot’ pilot (ABC) 16.7HH/27% -> This was another one of those glued-together pilots-into-movies presentations like the ‘Harry-O’/’Intertect’ pairing later in the week. ‘The Fuzz Brothers’ starred Mr. Louis Gosset and Mr. Felton Perry as two cop brothers with the unlikely surname of Fuzz. The ‘Doc Elliot’ pilot starring Mr. James Franciscus got a pick-up to series, where it first aired as a once-a-month floating series in the ‘Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law’ timeslot before getting its own mid-season timeslot.

    Mon.Mar.05 – ‘NBC Monday Night at the Movies’: BROCK’S LAST CASE backdoor 22.2HH/36% -> Despite the big rating, NBC took a pass on this series, starring the fine noir film actor Mr. Richard Widmark, as a big city cop retiring to a small town where he becomes sheriff. NBC was quite up on Mr. Widmark though, and persuaded him to reprise his Madigan character (from a theatrical) into a new series as part of their ‘NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie’ series wheel.

    Tue.Mar.06 – ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’: THE LETTERS backdoor 24.4HH/39% -> This was the first of two pilots to get ABC to pick up a romantic anthology series (starring Mr. Henry Jones as the postman). ABC hesitated, and ordered a second pilot LETTERS FROM THREE LOVERS, while NBC commissioned the similarly-themed anthology ‘Love Story’, trying to build on their ‘Police Story’ brand. When ‘Love Story’ bombed, ABC aired the second pilot (which didn’t rate as well), and ultimately passed on the series. Mr. Aaron Spelling was undeterred about selling the Alphabet a romantic series; a few years later he would pitch a pilot for a romantic dramedy series that evolved into ‘Love Boat’.

    ‘Tue.Mar.06 – ‘The New CBS Tuesday Movie Double-Feature’: CRIME CLUB backdoor 22.5HH/38% -> I don’t remember much about this pilot, about a team of private investigators, other than it had a top-notch cast. Perhaps CBS had challenges in locking up the talent to make this go to series.

    ‘Tue.Mar.06 – ‘The New CBS Tuesday Movie Double-Feature’: VISIONS OF DEATH backdoor 17.4HH/29% -> This was a re-titled encore of a telemovie suspenser previously broadcast as VISIONS… (first airing 18.6HH/30%) that CBS decided to test out a second time for its series potential about a college professor who doubles as a psychic consulting to the police. Starring Mr. Monte Markham, it was a ‘Medium’-like concept that would have made an interesting series.

    Thu.Mar.08 – ‘The CBS Thursday Movie’: THE MARCUS-NELSON MURDERS backdoor 19.8/36% -> This was the first airing of the pilot for a ‘Kojack’ series that got picked up to series (the title would change over the course of the summer), and CBS encored this pilot a number of times within the ‘Kojak’ series re-fashioned into a two-parter. The gritty pilot won Emmys for writing and directing.

    THE SPECIALS
    =========

    Wed.Mar.07 – DR. JECKYL & MR HYDE telemovie 9.2/15% -> although low-rated, this marvelous musical adaptation of the classic by Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson was spearheaded to production by Mr. Kirk Douglas, and it featured a superb cast including Mr. Stanley Holloway (from MY FAIR LADY) in his second-to-last filmed appearance.

    Fri.Mar.09 – ‘Liza with a Z’ 15.0HH/25% -> This was an encore of a special originally broadcast live by NBC in September 1972, and it was directed by the legendary Mr. Bob Fosse. For years afterward, this special was considered to be lost, as certain elements were missing, until original soundless broadcast footage (stored away in the boathouse of a member of the production team) was synced up with musical tracks in a vinyl album recording, and the fully-restored special was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and then subsequently cablecast on Showtime and broadcast by PBS. I was lucky to attend the re-premiere at the Toronto Festival…Miss Liza Minnelli also attended, and very graciously answered about an hours worth of questions from the audience afterwards. I purchased, and absolutely treasure, the DVD release put together for this special, and recommend it highly. I so wish television today could produce musical-variety specials of this extraordinary calibre.

  • pB says:

    Any reason why ABC waited to air 3 pilots before making SMDM and Harry O into weekly series?

    Wasn’t there a Rockford ep that was supposed to be a backdoor pilot for a Louis Gosset Jr series?

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    MCA/Universal originally wanted to sell “THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN” to ABC as a monthly series of 90 minute “movie-length” episodes, the way they sold NBC their “MYSTERY MOVIE” packages {“McCLOUD”, “COLUMBO”, “McMILLAN & WIFE”, et. al.}. However, when the network found themselves staring into yet another “gaping hole” in their mid-season schedule (on Fridays, after “ROOM 222” and “ADAM’S RIB” were cancelled), they decided an hour-long version of the series would follow “THE BRADY BUNCH” and precede “THE ODD COUPLE”, beginning in January 1974. And it continued in an hour-long format until it was cancelled in 1978.

    And yes, Lou Gossett appeared twice as “Gandolph Fitch”- first in “The Hammer of ‘C’ Block” [1/9/76], then in the episode that was supposed to lead to his own series, “Just Another Polish Wedding” [2/18/77].

  • Paul Duca says:

    I thought I knew the whole story about STICKS AND BONES….Robert Metz devoted a chapter to it in his book “CBS: Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye”. What I didn’t know is how poorly the airing of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING did until I came here. It really lived up to its title….Metz says that Joseph Papp made CBS agree to air productions like STICKS AND BONES, if they wanted to get his Shakespeare versions that were expected to please home viewers the way they did live audiences. After that first one tanked, I now think CBS chickened out simply from fear of another ratings dead Friday evening, more so than any political controversy. In fact, CBS had no problems at this time repeating the two-part MAUDE episode where the middle-aged lead character finds herself pregnant…and decides to have an abortion, despite the flurry of protests from anti-abortion activists readying themselves for the rebroadcast.

    Of course, MAUDE was solidly in the Top 10 by this time…

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