Here are the first ten programs from the twenty-third week of the 1972-1973 television season, which ran from Monday, February 12th, 1973 through Sunday, February 18th, 1973. There were a total of 62 programs broadcast during the week and The Los Angeles Times published the complete Nielsen report on March 1st, 1973. ABC came close to topping the Nielsen chart with The Ten Commandments, broadcast as part of The ABC Sunday Night Movie, but ultimately lost to CBS and All in the Family. In terms of share of the audience, however, The Ten Commandments beat All in the Family 54% to 53%. The other movie night in the Top Ten was The CBS Tuesday Movie (The Horror of 37,000 Feet).
One program of interest, identified in the Nielsen list as “Arrival Of POW’s,” ranked 33rd with an 18.6 rating and a 30% share of the audience. I don’t know which network this program aired on or even when it aired; I can’t find any mention of a program about the return of POWs during prime time during the week, which suggests it may have been a last minute pre-emption. Certainly, there was plenty of coverage throughout the week, on various early morning and evening news programs.
Here’s the Top Ten, complete with Nielsen ratings:
|1.||All in the Family||CBS||33.7|
|2.||The ABC Sunday Night Movie||ABC||33.2|
|3.||Sanford and Son||NBC||31.3|
|6.||The CBS Tuesday Movie||CBS||25.9|
|7.||The Mary Tyler Moore Show||CBS||25.9|
|8.||The Flip Wilson Show||NBC||25.2|
|10.||The Bob Newhart Show||CBS||24.5|
Here’s how CBS and NBC fared on Sunday, February 18th opposite The ABC Sunday Night Movie and The 10 Commandments. Note that prime time on ABC didn’t begin until 8PM, meaning affiliates aired local programming from 7:30-8PM. CBS and NBC, on the other hand, began prime time at 7:30PM but ended at 10:30PM, meaning the 10:30-11PM half hour was filled with local programming. For the record, CBS broadcast The New Dick Van Dyke Show, M*A*S*H, Mannix and Barnaby Jones. NBC aired The Wonderful World of Disney and The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie (Hec Ramsey).
Time ABC CBS NBC 7:30PM N/A 20.9/33 (avg) 18.0/30 8:00PM 33.2/54 (avg) 20.9/33 15.9/24 8:30PM 33.2/54 15.6/22 (avg) 15.9/23 (avg) 9:00PM 33.2/54 15.6/22 15.9/23 9:30PM 33.2/54 13.9/21 (avg) 15.9/23 10:00PM 33.2/54 13.9/21 15.9/23 10:30PM 33.2/54 N/A N/A Average 33.2/54 12.9/23 17.5/26
As always, be aware that The 10 Commandments didn’t draw a 33.2 Nielsen rating and a 54% of the audience during every half-hour. It likely grew as the evening progressed. The broadcast actually didn’t end until after midnight (either 12:15AM or 12:30AM) and I would be interested in seeing when it peaked. Were viewers willing to stay up until 12:30AM to see the end of the movie?