Here are the first ten programs from the first Nielsen Television Index (NTI) for the 1966-1967 television season, covering the two weeks running from Monday, September 12th, 1966 through Sunday, September 25th, 1966. Each NTI report was issued several weeks after the period it covered came to an end. This first report, for example, was released in mid-October. I’m not sure if the networks had earlier access to the NTI reports than media sources.
Please note that because the NTI report covered two weeks, the ratings shown are the average of programming from both weeks except in the case of one-time specials or pre-emptions.
In this first NTI report, ABC’s broadcast of the The Bridge Over the River Kwai from 8-11PM on Sunday, September 25th easily took the top slot with a massive 38.3 rating. The previous Sunday (September 18th) the network broadcast The F.B.I. from 8-9PM and The ABC Sunday Night Movie from 9-11PM (the movie that week was King Solomon’s Mines). None of those programs cracked the Top Ten.
|1.||The Bridge Over the River Kwai*||ABC||38.3|
|Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.||CBS||24.9|
|6.||The Andy Griffith Show||CBS||24.6|
|7.||The NBC Saturday Movie||NBC||23.6|
|8.||The Lucy Show||CBS||23.4|
|9.||The Red Skelton Show||CBS||23.3|
|10.||The Beverly Hillbillies||CBS||22.4|
*Telecast one week only
Notice that NBC’s Bonanza was able to average a 24.9 Nielsen rating despite facing The Bridge Over the River Kwai on Sunday, September 25th.
“The Ratings: A Photo Finish.” Broadcasting. 17 Oct. 1966: 66-67.