Nielsen Top 10, January 29th – February 4th, 1973

Here are the first ten programs from the twenty-first week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, January 29th, 1973 through Sunday, February 4th. There were a total of 64 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on February 15th, 1973. NBC was able to win the week with an average 21.0 Nielsen rating (up from a 19.7 rating the previous week) in part because of its strong regular programming and the solid performance of NBC Monday Night Movie, but also because CBS basically wrote of the entire evening of Friday, February 2nd, when it broadcast a version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. CBS still manage to rank second with a 19.4, but that was down considerably from a 21.7 rating the previous week, while ABC was a close third for the week with a 19.2 (up from a 17.3 rating).

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 34.7
2. Sanford & Son NBC 31.0
3. Ironside NBC 29.9
4. Hawaii Five-O CBS 29.4
5. The Mary Tyler Moore Show CBS 27.9
6. Maude CBS 27.9
7. NBC Monday Night Movie NBC 27.1
8. The Bob Newhart Show CBS 26.4
9. The ABC Sunday Night Movie ABC 25.6
10. The Flip Wilson Show NBC 24.9

Here’s how the networks fared on Monday, January 29th, 1973. ABC broadcast The Rookies and THE ABC Monday Night Movies. (Lawrence of Arabia, Part 2). CBS aired Gunsmoke, Here’s Lucy, The Doris Day Show and The Bill Cosby Show. NBC’s filled its schedule with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The NBC Monday Night at the Movies (Diary of a Mad Housewife).

 8:00PM 21.5/31 (avg) 23.0/33 (avg) 19.1/27 (avg)
 8:30PM 21.5/31 23.0/33 19.1/27
 9:00PM 17.9/28 (avg) 20.0/29 27.1/42 (avg)
 9:30PM 17.9/28 17.0/25 27.1/42
10:00PM 17.9/28 (avg) 11.6/19 (avg) 27.1/42 (avg)
10:30PM 17.9/28 11.6/19 27.1/42
Average 16.3/25 17.7/27 27.9/42

NBC won the evening as a whole thanks to the strong showing for Diary of a Mad Housewife from 9-11PM, despite ranking third during the 8-9PM hour. CBS, on the other hand, won the 8-9PM hour but ranked third for the evening due to a poor showing of The Bill Cosby Show. That left ABC in second place.

On Friday, February 4th, CBS aired a videotaped version of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” produced by Joseph Papp and starring Sam Waterston and Kathleen Widdoes. The three-hour broadcast ranked a dismal 60th out of 64 programs for the week. Obviously, the network ranked third for the evening. Both ABC and NBC aired their regular line-ups: The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222 and Love, American Style on ABC; Sanford and Son, Little People, Circle of Fear and The Bobby Darin Show on NBC.

 8:00PM 19.3/31  9.5/16 (avg) 31.0/49
 8:30PM 23.5/37  9.5/16 22.5/35
 9:00PM 22.0/36 (avg)  9.5/16 21.0/34 (avg)
 9:30PM 22.0/36  9.5/16 21.0/34
10:00PM 24.4/44 (avg)  9.5/16 16.4/29 (avg)
10:30PM 24.4/44  9.5/16 16.4/29
Average 19.3/38  9.5/16 21.4/35

Notice that the flow of audience for ABC and NBC were direct opposites; ABC saw its audience grow as the evening progressed while NBC saw its audience decline. Still, on the strength of Sanford and Son NBC was able to win the evening with a 21.4 Nielsen rating; ABC ranked a competitive second with a 19.3 rating. However, ABC actually had a larger share of the audience, 38% compared to 35% for NBC. As always, these ratings and shares are based on program averages. Conceivably, CBS could have actually ranked second (or even first) during any given half-hour, with the remainder of the evening rating so poorly that it pulled down the entire average. But that’s unlikely.

The three networks combined averaged a 50.2 Nielsen rating and an 89% share of the audience. The previous Friday (January 26th) the networks averaged a 52.0 Nielsen rating and an 85% share of the audience. In other words, the same number of households were watching television on February 3rd. They just weren’t watching CBS.


“‘Bunkers Bury Bard in New Nielsens.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Feb. 1973: H22.

4 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, January 29th – February 4th, 1973”

  1. There were three backdoor pilots that aired on Tuesday night during Week 21 of the 1972-73 regular season.

    At CBS that Tuesday, BIRDS OF PREY was a pilot for a series about a pair of ex-Air Force helicopter pilots, starring the gravel-voiced Mr. David Janssen and Mr. Ralph Meeker. The pilot rated well at a first place 23.4HH/38%, causing wonder as to why it didn’t go to series. Possibly, the numerous action sequences utilizing helicopters were cost-prohibitive to CBS, but ‘Blue Thunder’ and ‘Airwolf’ managed to get around this a decade later (though ‘Blue Thunder’ borrowed stock footage from the theatrical BLUE THUNDER). I think the real reason it didn’t go to series was that rival net ABC was quite high on the ‘Harry-O’ pilot that development season (the pilot wouldn’t air until March 11th), and they might have committed to a series vehicle for Mr. Janssen ahead of CBS.

    The ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’ that week had A COLD NIGHT’S DEATH, which I seem to remember being a try-out/demo by Mr. Aaron Spelling and Mr. Leonard Goldberg to create a genre horror-suspense anthology series a la ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘Night Gallery’. Director Mr. Jerrold Freedman created a chilling masterpiece that starred Mr. Robert Culp and Mr. Eli Wallach, and the telefilm garnered a second place 17.6HH/26%.

    Also airing that Tuesday, NBC ran BAFFLED!, a backdoor pilot for a series that would have starred Mr. Leonard Nimoy as a race-car driver with extra-sensory powers, and Miss Susan Hampshire as his sexy counterpart, playing a researcher of the paranormal. BAFFLED! didn’t rate highly, coming in third with a 15.4HH/22%, which probably doomed its chances to go to series. NBC decision-makers were probably also reluctant to go to series with Mr. Nimoy so soon after ‘Star Trek’ (as his Spock was still heavily buzzed about), and just as with Mr. Adam West, Mr. Nimoy suffered from typecasting by casting agents for many years to come.

  2. “BAFFLED” also was simply not very good. Lots of cheesy rear-projection while Leonard Nimoy’s character was “racing”.

    Also, just look at that NBC Friday night schedule! What a horrible lineup. Absolutely no flow. You went from ethnic comedy to the most white-bread show possible, “THE LITTLE PEOPLE.” That would have been like “ALL IN THE FAMILY” followed by “FAMILY AFFAIR”!

    1. If it had done that well on Mondays in 1969, what would ABC had done with football (it had in fact committed to the NFL for prime time airings starting in the fall of 1970).

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