Nielsen Top 10, November 6th – November 12th, 1972

Here are the first ten programs from the ninth week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, November 6th, 1972 through Sunday, November 12th, 1972. There were a total of 62 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on November 23rd, 1972. ABC’s broadcast of 1969’s True Grit (which won John Wayne an Oscar for Best Actor) on Sunday, November 12th topped the chart with a 38.9 rating and a 63 share, pushing All in the Family to second. Nonetheless, ABC still ranked third for the week with a 17.8 rating (down from an 18.8 the week before). CBS was first with a 19.2 (up from a 19.1) and NBC second with an 18.8 (down from an 19.0).

Other specials in the Top Ten included the hour-long “Snoopy at the Ice Follies” (hosted by Charles Schulz) in fourth place and the half-hour “Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14” (based on the life of Flip Wilson) in fifth place. The two specials were broadcast by NBC on Sunday from 7:30-9PM. Here’s the Top Ten, complete with Nielsen ratings:

## Program Net Rating
1. “True Grit” ABC 38.9
2. All in the Family CBS 37.7
3. Gunsmoke CBS 37.4
4. “Snoopy at the Ice Follies” NBC 26.4
5. “Clerow Wilson–P.S. 14” CBS 25.4
6. Sanford and Son NBC 25.1
7. Bridget Loves Bernie CBS 24.9
8. The Flip Wilson Show NBC 24.6
9. Ironside NBC 24.2
10. Adam 12 NBC 23.5

Here’s how CBS and NBC fared against ABC on Sunday, November 12th from 9-11PM, opposite True Grit. CBS aired The New Dick Van Dyke Show from 9-9:30PM and Mannix from 9:30-10:30PM (local programming aired from 10:30-11PM). NBC aired a Neil Simon special titled “The Trouble with People” (an installment of The Bell System Family Theatre) from 9-10PM and then Night Gallery from 10-10:30PM (local programming aired from 10:30-11PM).

 9:00PM 38.9/63 11.2/16 16.8/24
 9:30PM 38.9/63 12.0/18 16.8/24
10:00PM 38.9/63 12.0/18  8.4/13
10:30PM 38.9/63 N/A N/A
Average 38.9/63 11.7/17 14.0/20

ABC’s True Grit didn’t pull a 38.9 Nielsen rating or a 63 share during each half-hour, that’s just the two-hour average. The movie likely broke a 40 rating during at least one half-hour and perhaps rose as high as a 70 share. Notice that for the 9-9:30PM half-hour, based on the averages, the networks collectively drew a 103% share of the audience (63 + 16 + 24). That’s obviously impossible. True Grit probably had a 50% share during that half-hour.

On Tuesday, November 7th the networks aired election coverage. CBS and NBC broadcast beginning at 6:30PM and ABC from 7PM. According to The Los Angeles Times, Nielsen averaged their ratings from 7-11PM for its weekly rankings. The coverage on CBS ranked 32nd, NBC’s was 33rd and ABC’s 56th. Here’s how each network fared during those four hours:

Net Rating
CBS 17.6/27
NBC 17.3/27
ABC 11.3/18
Total 46.2/72

Four political broadcasts, one for McGovern, one for Nixon, one for the American Independent Party and another for Nixon, ranked 52nd, 59th, 61st and 62nd, respectively. The second Nixon broadcast had a 6.2 Nielsen rating and a 10% share. Those would be decent numbers for many programs on the networks these days, but in 1972 they were dead last. The McGovern broadcast, on the other hand, had a 12.8 rating and a 20% share. On Monday, November 7th, ABC broadcast political programs from from 8-9:30PM, followed by Monday Night Football:

Time Program
8-8:25PM Independent Party Presidential Campaign
8:25-9PM Communist Party Presidential Campaign
9-9:30PM McGovern for President

CBS aired political programs from 10-11PM:

Time Program
10-10:30PM McGovern for President
10:30-11PM Finance Committee to Re-elect the President

I’m not sure what the requirements are for political programs in order to be tracked by Nielsen. The Community Party program ran only five minutes and was probably ignored entirely.


“‘True Grit’ Wins Top Nielsen Rating Spot.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Nov. 1972: E38.

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5 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, November 6th – November 12th, 1972”

  1. There were a couple of other interesting theatricals that got their broadcast (world) premieres that week in 1972 too.

    On Thursday night, ‘The CBS Thursday Night Movies’ premiered WAIT UNTIL DARK which starred Miss Audrey Hepburn who received an Academy Award Best Actress nomination. The film attracted a 22.4HH/37%, well above the 18.7HH the film series averaged in the 1972-73 season. I still remember the buzz the morning after from all those who saw the film for the first time, with its absolutely rivetting conclusion.

    On Friday, ‘The CBS Friday Night Movies’ premiered HORNET’S NEST, a World War 2 thriller starring Mr. Rock Hudson, and the film got an above average 20.8HH/35% for the network.

    Then on Saturday, ‘NBC Saturday Night at the Movies’ preemed GIANT – PART 1, which starred icons Mr. James Dean, Miss Elizabeth Taylor and Mr. Rock Hudson. The film got at 22.1HH/38%, strong numbers going up against ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’, ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ and ‘Mission: Impossible’ on CBS and ‘Streets of San Francisco’ and ‘The Sixth Sense’ on ABC. Two nights later, GIANT – PART 2 aired on ‘NBC Monday Night at the Movies’ and garnered a 25.9HH/38% share.

    Those were the days for theatrical films airing on broadcast, with audience deliveries that make todays cabler premieres, even their cume numbers, look positively Lilliputian by comparison.

    1. Don’t forget that in 1972, there was no VHS, DVD, DVR or streaming. Only 2 ways to see a movie then: In a theater or at a predetermined time on TV!

    1. Also, notice that while ABC had the top rating with “True Grit”, there were no ABC series in the top 10! ABC was still considered the doormat that CBS and NBC wiped their feet on. 20 years later, Fox was in the same position, but now they’re the number 2 network.

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