Nielsen Top 10, February 12th – February 18th, 1973

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:

## Program Net Rating
1. All in the Family CBS 33.7
2. The ABC Sunday Night Movie ABC 33.2
3. Sanford and Son NBC 31.3
4. Hawaii Five-O CBS 30.7
5. Maude CBS 26.8
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
9. Gunsmoke CBS 24.7
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).

 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?


“Moses Edged Out By Bunkers In Ratings.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Mar. 1973: H24.

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2 Replies to “Nielsen Top 10, February 12th – February 18th, 1973”

  1. I did; I recall that, when “The Ten Commandments” aired at 8pm(et) on Sunday during the ’70s and ’80s, it didn’t end until 12:40am(et). Now, it appears on a Saturday night [ABC has no intention of “interrupting” their successful Sunday night schedule, including “DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES” and “BROTHERS AND SISTERS”, by pre-empting it with that movie these days] from 7 through 11:45pm.

  2. NBC aired a couple of pilots in Week 23 of the 1972-73 season.

    On Monday night, it aired ‘Lady Luck’, a pilot for a half-hour Universal sitcom directed by Mr. James Komack and starring the lovely and talented Miss Valerie Perrine as the woman with all the luck, and supported by Mr. Paul Sand and Mr. Bert Convy. The pilot got a rather lucky 18.4HH/33%, but was not picked up to series.

    On Wednesday night, NBC aired the telefilm POOR DEVIL as part of its ‘NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie’ skein. POOR DEVIL was a backdoor comedy pilot from Paramount that starred Mr. Sammy Davis Jr., Mr. Christopher Lee, Mr. Adam West and Mr. Jack Klugman. The pilot garnered an acceptable 18.0HH/27%, but it underperformed the ratings for the mystery movie series and was not picked up to series.

    Other ratings of note during Week 23 included CBS’s encore of VALLEY OF THE DOLLS on ‘The CBS Thursday Movies’ which got a lovely 20.1HH/32% Nielsen, and ABC’s Friday broadcast of ‘The Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau’: “Hippo” which garnered a 16.7HH/26%. I mention the latter because I thoroughly enjoyed Turner Classic Movies’ recent marathon of 20 episodes of ‘Jacques Cousteau’ shown commercial-free and drawn from network broadcasts during the 1960s and 1970s. While “Hippo” was not part of the marathon, there were many episodes of the landmark series that I was able to see again after several decades. It would be sweet to see Turner Classic Movies curate a similar marathon of some of the finer television movies from the ’60s and ’70s that have all but disappeared from view…I’m sure a visit to the MGM and WB libraries would retreive reels of worthy telemovie titles.

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