Nielsen Top 10, September 11th – September 17th, 1972

Earlier this year I went through the 1966-1967 regular season (excluding the summer months) and listed the top ten programs from each week. I’ve decided to start doing the same with the 1972-1973 season. So here are the first ten programs from the very first Nielsen report of the 1972-1973 season, which covered the week running from Monday, September 11th, 1972 through Sunday, September 17th, 1972. Albin Krebs wrote about them in a September 26th, 1972 article for The New York Times. Only one new program — Bridget Loves Bernie on CBS — was in the top ten. Although ABC had the top two programs for the week it was NBC that came out on top with 20.7/34.3 Nielsen rating. ABC was second with a 19.4/31.7 and CBS brought up the rear with a 17.1/28.4.

According to Krebs, a CBS spokesman attempting to explain why his network was in third place pointed out that ABC and NBC had “front-loaded” premiere week with specials and “high-priced theatrical movies,” like Goldfinger. That movie, broadcast on The ABC Sunday Night Movie, ranked second for the week, barely beaten by ABC’s Marcus Welby, M.D.. Three other movies were in the top ten: No Place to Run The Daughters of Joshua Cabe (The ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week), In the Heat of the Night (The NBC Saturday Movie) and The Anderson Tapes (The NBC Monday Movie).

I only know the actual ratings for the top two programs; later weeks should include the ratings for the entire top ten.

Thursday, December 24th, 2009 Update: Bill was kind enough to contribute the remainder of the Nielsen ratings for this week. DuMont has added rating/share information for the four movies in the comments.

## Program Net Rating
1. Marcus Welby, M.D. ABC 31.2
2. ABC Sunday Night Movie ABC 31.1
3. All in the Family CBS 28.7
4. Bonanza NBC 25.1
5. ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week ABC 25.0
6. Bridget Loves Bernie CBS 24.9
7. The NBC Saturday Movie NBC 24.7
8. The Flip Wilson Show NBC 24.2
9. Ironside NBC 23.5
10. NBC Monday Movie NBC 23.0


Krebs, Albin. “‘Marcus Welby’ Tops First Week’s Nielsen TV Ratings.” New York Times. 26 Sep. 1972: 95.

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9 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, September 11th – September 17th, 1972”

  1. “BRIDGET LOVES BERNIE” was the highest rated new show on CBS to be cancellled after one season; the reason being two major religious groups- Catholic AND Jewish- objected to the idea of a “mixed marriage” being shown on TV every week [there was a similar reaction to the stage, screen and radio versions of “Abie’s Irish Rose”, a famous play by Anne Nichols, fifty years before, depicting a similar relationship between a Jewish husband and Catholic wife (with plenty of gentle humor and “stereotypes”), but the original play was one of the longest-lasting on Broadway {2,327 performances}, its record unbroken until the 1940’s]. “BONANZA” suffered the most (despite being in the “Top Ten” that week), as it moved from Sundays at 9pm(et) to Tuesdays at 8 that fall, and the ratings dropped to a point where NBC decided to end the series in January, after 14 seasons and 430 episodes. “THE FLIP WILSON SHOW” and “IRONSIDE” were still an unbeatable back-to-back combination on Thursdays…until “THE WALTONS” premiered later that month, and slowly gained momentum until Flip’s variety show was in ratings trouble the following season.

  2. Something good did come out of “BRIDGET LOVES BERNIE”: The two stars of the sitcom, David Birney and Meredith Baxter, first met on the set; they fell in love and got married in 1974, one year after the show went off the air. The pair divorced in 1989.
    Meredith Baxter (who would go on to star on “FAMILY,” “FAMILY TIES,” and a string of women-in-jeopardy TV films, has an interesting family history of her own. Her mother was the late Whitney Blake, who co-starred on the series “HAZEL” and co-created the sitcom “ONE DAY AT A TIME” with her third husband, writer Allan Mannings. Baxter’s aunt was the acclaimed actress Anne Baxter (“All About Eve” and other films).
    Barry’s comments about “THE WALTONS” were spot-on, and the story of the show’s early struggle and eventual success probably deserves an article of its own.

  3. Thanks, Mike- but IS “THE WALTONS” now “obscure” enough for RGJ to create an article concerning its struggles and early success?

  4. Earl Hamner is still mining his creation to this day, although to a much smaller audience. Right now he is narrating a stage production of “The Homecoming” at the Hamner Theater in Afton, VA. All shows are sold out.

  5. I wouldn’t say Earl is “mining” his creation- it’s more of a labor of love, and he KNOWS to whom he’s doing that for- even at the equivalent of a “Branson, Missouri” theater. You can’t take the “Blue Ridge Mountains” out of a man- even after his days there as a boy over 70 years ago. I suppose I can wait until the 40th anniversary….

  6. I have some more ratings information on the movies.

    2. The ABC Sunday Night Movie – GOLDFINGER (ABC) 31.1HH/49%
    5. ABC Wednesday Movie of the Week – THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE (ABC) 25.0HH/38%
    7. NBC Saturday Night at the Movies – IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (NBC) 24.7HH/45%
    10. NBC Monday Night at the Movies – THE ANDERSON TAPES (NBC) 23.0HH/36%

  7. …and the “JOSHUA CABE” TV movie was so successful, ABC followed it up with two sequels: “THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE RETURN” (1973), and “THE NEW DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE” (1974). They never led to a weekly series, though…

    1. All of the ‘Joshua Cabe’ telefilms served as backdoor pilots as ABC and Mr. Aaaron Spelling tried to find a formula for a western comedy series that could work.

      The first backdoor rated high in original broadcast and over two encores, but by the time of its first airing, Mr. Buddy Ebsen had already signed on for ‘Barnaby Jones’, a CBS spinoff from ‘Cannon’, which was already in production as a mid-seasoner in the 1972-73 season at the time THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE aired. Thus, he was unavailable if ABC optioned it for a series. As well, Miss Karen Valentine was a regular on ABC’s ‘Room 222’, but that wasn’t a showstopper as she could have been shifted or her ‘Room 222’ role made reccurring. I can’t remember why, but I do believe there were casting complications with Miss Lesley Anne Warren and Miss Sandra Dee as well.

      When ABC contemplated a second backdoor, THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE RETURN, as part of their 1974-75 development crop, the vehicle was completely re-cast. When it aired in January 1975, it rated very well, however by the time of upfronts that year, Mr. Fred Silverman was newly in charge of ABC, and for whatever reason, he passed on a ‘Joshua Cabe’ series for the fall 1975 sked… I think the comic western ‘Barbary Coast’ (with a more promotable cast including Mr. William Shatner) was picked up instead.

      However, Mr. Silverman did commission yet a third backdoor pilot, THE NEW DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE, with yet another cast overhaul (the daughters were much hotter than in the second pilot), and Mr. Jack Elam was brought back in the role of Bitterroot. Mr. Silverman didn’t include THE NEW DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE on his fall 1976 sked, but ABC did air the pilot post-upfronts in May to test it for a possible mid-season or third season tryout in the 1976-77 season, but it rated poorly, and the project was never heard from again.

      Here are the ratings for the three backdoors which could be put together on a DVD for 4.5 hours of vintage 1970s ABC via Spelling-Goldberg Productions:

      ‘Wednesday Movie of the Week’: THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE
      original airing Sep.13/1972: 25.0HH/38%
      1st encore Dec.26/1973: 20.4HH/32%
      2nd encore Aug.05/1975: 14.0HH/28%

      ‘Tuesday Movie of the Week’: THE DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE RETURN
      original airing Jan.28/1975: 21.6HH/32%

      ‘The ABC Saturday Night Movie’: THE NEW DAUGHTERS OF JOSHUA CABE
      original airing May.29/1976: 13.8HH/28%

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