Nielsen Top 10, October 2nd – October 8th, 1972

Here are the first ten programs from the fourth week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, October 2nd, 1972 through Sunday, October 8th, 1972. There were 64 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on October 19th, 1972. All in the Family was back on top for CBS and Bridget Loves Bernie was fourth. Two movies on ABC were also in the Top Ten: Playmates on The ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week and El Dorado on The ABC Sunday Night Movie. Overall, CBS won the week with a 19.8 rating, NBC came in second with a 19.4 and ABC ranked third with an 18.5; the previous week, ABC was first thanks to its broadcast of Love Story on The ABC Sunday Night Movie.

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

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 33.4
2. Bob Hope Special NBC 32.2
3. Marcus Welby ABC 30.5
4. Bridget Loves Bernie CBS 26.4
5. ABC Tuesday Movie ABC 26.1
6. Sanford & Son NBC 25.2
7. Adam 12 NBC 24.9
8. Flip Wilson NBC 24.3
9. ABC Sunday Movie ABC 23.3
10. Cannon CBS 23.2

Having access to the complete Nielsen report means I can actually break down some of the numbers and see how certain programs performed in comparison to the programs on other networks. If you’re interested, I’ve broken down the evening of Saturday, October 7th to show how each network performed with a special emphasis on the flow of audience for CBS. I’ve never been great at math so please correct any errors you might find in the following analysis.

CBS was easily the most-watched network on Saturday, October 7th. But that doesn’t mean it won ever half hour. Its line-up started off with a bang and fells steadily as the evening progressed. All in the Family on CBS drew a 33.4/55 Nielsen rating from 8-8:30PM and Bridget Loves Bernie, although it dropped somewhat, still topped with a 26.4/43 from 8:30-9PM. Here’s how the other networks fared from 8-9PM: Emergency on NBC had a 17.0/28 rating (ranking 44th) and Alias Smith and Jones on ABC had a 10.0/16 rating (ranking 63rd). I’ve put together this nifty table showing all three networks and their ratings:

Net Rating
CBS 29.9/49 (avg)
NBC 17.0/28
ABC 10.0/16
Total 56.9/93

In other words, out of all the television households in use during that hour, 93% of were watching one of the networks; the other 7% were watching independent stations or PBS. And out of all the television households in the country (including those not in use at the time) 56.9% were watching one of the networks. To see how the CBS line-up flowed together here’s another table:

Time Program Rating
 8:00PM All in the Family 33.4/55
 8:30PM Bridget Loves Bernie 26.4/43
 9:00PM The Mary Tyler Moore Show 21.2/34
 9:30PM The Bob Newhart Show 20.3/32
10:00PM Mission: Impossible (avg) 18.5/32
10:30PM Mission: Impossible (avg) 18.5/32

As you can see, CBS started off with 55% of the audience tuned in but by the end of the evening was down to 32%. And NBC, thanks to its broadcast of Marooned as part of The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, actually outperformed CBS from 9:30-11PM. The audience that fled CBS after Bridget Loves Bernie ended seem to have moved to ABC rather than NBC, however; during the 9-9:30PM half-hour ABC jumped from a 16 share to a 27 share (an increase of 11 points) while NBC went from a 28 share to a 34 share (an increase of six points). Here’s a table showing how all three networks performed from 8-11PM:

 8:00PM 10.0/16 33.4/55 17.0/28
 8:30PM 10.0/16 26.4/43 17.0/28
 9:00PM 16.6/27 21.2/34 19.8/34
 9:30PM 16.6/27 20.3/32 19.8/34
10:00PM 14.3/24 18.5/32 19.8/34
10:30PM 14.3/24 18.5/32 19.8/34
Average 13.6/22 24.0/38 18.8/32

I should point out that the rating and share for The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies is an average from 9-11PM. I don’t have access to half-hour or quarterly breakdowns so I can’t say whether The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies grew as the evening progressed (which is likely). It is possible that the first half-hour of Mission: Impossible on CBS actually outdrew the third half-hour of The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies. But based on the numbers I do have, for the two-hour block as a whole, NBC did better than CBS (and ABC, of course). For the evening, however, CBS easily won.

Here’s another example of how the networks compared from a less competitive time slot: Monday from 8-9PM when Gunsmoke (CBS), The Rookies (ABC) and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (NBC) went head to head.

Net Rating
CBS 22.3/34
ABC 18.6/29
NBC 18.1/28
Total 59.0/91

This time, a slightly smaller number of television households in use, 91%, were watching the networks. But out of all the television households in existence at the moment, a few more — 59% — were tuned into either ABC, CBS or NBC. And CBS still easily won. But ABC and The Rookies managed to do just a bit better than NBC’s Gunsmoke.


“All In Family Rests Atop Weekly Ratings.” Los Angeles Times. 19 Oct. 1972: E22.

One Reply to “Nielsen Top 10, October 2nd – October 8th, 1972”

  1. This was the last year for Laugh-In. Most of the big names (Goldie Hawn etc.) had left but my family still watched it. Thinking back it was still a funny and well made show. I wonder why they didn’t do a seventh season. Too expensive maybe?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.