Nielsen Top 10, February 5th – February 11th, 1973

Here are the first ten programs from the twenty-second week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, February 5th, 1973 through Sunday, February 11th. I don’t have the complete Nielsen list for the week but Bill was kind enough to provide the Top Ten. All in the Family was not surprisingly the most-watched program; the remainder of the Top Ten was filled with a handful of regular series, a movie night, a series premiere and two specials. Two programs aired by NBC on Thursday, February 8th — another “Bob Hope Special” and another special called “NBC Follies” — were third and fourth, respectively. One of Bob’s guests in this special was George Foreman, while “NBC Follies” featured Andy Griffith, Mickey Rooney, Sammy Davis Jr., and others.

In sixth place was the premiere of NBC’s Escape, a half-hour pseudo-documentary series narrated by Jack Webb, in which stories of bravery and adventure were presented. It was the first of four episodes broadcast between February and April of 1973. In tenth place was NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, which this week presented The Andromeda Strain. Based solely on the Top Ten, which included seven NBC programs and just three on CBS, it stands to reason that NBC was first for the week. But I don’t have the weekly averages at hand.

Here are the Top Ten:

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 35.0
2. The NBC Mystery Movie (Columbo) NBC 32.3
3. “Bob Hope Special” NBC 31.2
4. Sanford and Son NBC 30.6
5. “NBC Follies” NBC 26.8
6. Escape NBC 26.3
7. Bridget Loves Bernie CBS 26.0
8. Maude CBS 26.0
9. The Flip Wilson Show NBC 25.9
10. NBC Saturday Night at the Movies NBC 25.9

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7 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, February 5th – February 11th, 1973”

  1. Despite having so many top tenners, NBC still didn’t win Week 22. CBS won with a 20.8HH, while NBC averaged 20.3HH and ABC placed third with 17.6HH.

    ‘NBC Follies’ was a pilot for a hostless variety series featuring leggy showgirls that NBC was considering for the 1973-74 season, and it rated highly (helped by the ‘Bob Hope Special’), leading to a series order by NBC. When it appeared as a series the next fall on Thursdays at 10 pm out of ‘Ironside’, it did very poorly, averaging 14.2HH and losing badly to ABC’s ‘Streets of San Francisco’ and ‘The CBS Thursday Movies’. Viewers must not have cared for the attempt to re-boot the ‘Hollywood Palace’-type of variety series, despite all that showgirl leg on show.

    ABC aired a little miniseries within their ‘Tuesday/Wednesday Movie of the Week’ franchise titled DIVORCE HIS – DIVORCE HERS, which was the first on-screen performance as a couple by Miss Elizabeth Taylor and Mr. Richard Burton. Part 1 did well with a 22.0HH/33%, while audiences defected on the second night where it rated only 16.8HH/25%.

    The world television premiere of THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN gave ‘NBC Saturday Night at the Movies’ a nice top 10 Nielsen, and was the only premiere theatrical that week, unusual for a Sweep.

    NBC also aired ‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown’, a 90-minute Broadway musical adaptation, on Friday nights as part of its ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame’ occasional series, but it rated poorly with a 14.5HH/23% (all that singing and dancing must have been off-putting to those expecting a cartoon). What made this airing a highly unusual was that at the time CBS had an exclusive lock on the highly-rated ‘Charlie Brown’ and ‘Peanuts’ animated franchises, so NBC’s being able to pick up these rights was somewhat surprising at the time.

    CBS also aired an animated-to-live-action special ‘Flintstones on Ice’ on Sunday February 11th which garnered a much better 21.5HH/31%.

    The 90-minute pilot of ‘The Midnight Special’, which aired in Week 21 on Friday latenight garnering a 48% share in the metered markets, fell off quite a bit in week 2, down to a 37% share in the metereds; however, this was thought due that the second episode aired against a fresh ABC ‘In Concert’ session.

  2. Because the copyright on “DIVORCE HIS”/”DIVORCE HERS” wasn’t renewed in 2001, it’s been available in the public domain on several “dollar DVD”‘s- either together on one disc, or separately. It’s worth a look, for it correctly foreshadowed Liz & Dick divorcing each other again, a few years later.

    In those days, “HALLMARK HALL OF FAME” {an NBC staple until 1978} was a true anthology series, usually producing their specials on videotape in a 90 minute format [occasionally running for two hours], featuring adaptations of Broadway musicals, as well as comedic and dramatic presentations. Today, Hallmark Cards have limited themselves to producing about three two-hour movies a year for CBS (usually airing around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day- their biggest “seasons” to sell greeting cards and the like), often dealing with “sentimental” subjects adapted from obscure and little-known books, and historical docudramas. They’re the last specials on network television sustained by a single sponsor, and the ONLY network “TV movies” scheduled on a semi-regular basis.

  3. The original “pilot episode” of “THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL” (with John Denver as guest host) aired on August 19, 1972, primarily as an incentive to encourage teens to vote in the presidental election [and others] to be held that fall. The success of that telecast led NBC to sign an agreement with Burt Sugarman to produce a weekly series, which began on February 2, 1973. It managed to outlast ABC’s “IN CONCERT”, and continued until 1981.

  4. New York station WNBC-TV’s Feb. 8, 1973 airing of “NBC Follies” had been recorded on 3/4″ tape. The end of this program was followed by a promo slide for “The Bobby Darin Show” to be aired the next day, with Redd Foxx and Nancy Sinatra as guests; the voiceover was NBC staff announcer John Clarke. Afterwards was a teaser for their 11 P.M. “Eleventh Hour” newscast, with Jim Hartz mentioning doubts of the then-bankrupt Penn Central railroad getting back to a normal rush-hour schedule after a recent strike, then a filmed Tropicana orange juice ad with former kid’s show host Sandy Becker; a 10-second ad for Coca-Cola, with the “I’d Love to Teach the World to Sing” music, and voiceover by Peter Thomas; and finally, a Sears “Lincoln’s Birthday” sale ad voiced by NBC staffer Howard Reig. This whole segment had been put up on YouTube by user ‘tvp33’.

    It should be noted that 11 P.M. was the only place as of February 1973 where WNBC won the local news ratings wars; it was buried at 6 P.M. by WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News,” with WCBS at second place. At 11, WABC was a close second to WNBC, with WCBS-TV (whose co-anchors at that time slot then were Jim Jensen and Ralph Penza) in the cellar. This was a factor in WCBS overhauling its 11 P.M. newscast later in the year, so that it originated from their newsroom, and Rolland Smith and Dave Marash named as anchors (as they would be through 1978 when Marash left to become one of the reporters for ABC’s then-new “20/20”; and then again in 1981-82). The dead-last ratings for WNBC’s 6 P.M. newscast led, in 1974, to the creation of the 2-hour “NewsCenter4.”

  5. Wow… two shows I had forgotten all about. I remember seeing one episode of “NBC Follies,” and even though the talented Sammy Davis Jr. was the host, it was dreadful. I think there were rotating hosts for the short time it was on, but I don’t remember who they were. And “Escape”… I saw an episode of that as well, on a Sunday night at 10:30, where NBC had buried it. It, too, was horrendous… probably never would have gotten on the air if Jack Webb hadn’t produced it.
    One reason the comedy/variety format died in the mid-seventies, IMO, was that the shows no longer featured the caliber of talent they had in the fifties and sixties, on both sides of the camera. Caesar, Gleason, and Skelton were gone, and no one had come up to replace them. The typical variety show of the seventies was hosted not by a comedian but a singer, and not many of them had the all-around talent to sustain a variety show. (This was what Steve Allen called the era of “singers fooling around.”)

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