Nielsen Bottom 10, September 11th-17th, 1972

Last year, I examined the lowest-rated television programs during the 1987-1988 season. It was a huge amount of work, eating up as much as two hours each week. Why? I didn’t just post a list of the lowest-rated programs. I wrote a lengthy analysis of the Nielsen Bottom 10 every week. Despite a desire to examine the lowest-rated programs from other seasons, I didn’t want to do all that work again.

Starting today I’ll be posting the Bottom 10 programs from the 1972-1973 season each week. To save time and safeguard my sanity, there won’t be any analysis, just a list of the Bottom 10 programs each week. I may add some comments but otherwise I’ll leave it up to readers to analyze why certain shows may have failed to draw an audience.

My sources are Broadcasting magazine and The Los Angeles Times. Broadcasting published full lists for the first two months of the 1972-1973 season but usually only provided ratings for the Top 15 programs. The Los Angeles Times published full Nielsen lists–with ratings and shares for every single program–starting with the fourth week of the season. Between the two publications, I have access to the Bottom 10 programs for 26 weeks of the traditional 30-week season. There was also one “black week” during that period.

(I posted the weekly Nielsen Top 10 from the 1972-1973 season back in 2010. Start here.)

Week 1 of the 1972-1973 season started on Monday, September 11th, 1972 and ended on Sunday, September 17th, 1972. The highest-rated program was Marcus Welby, M.D. on ABC. Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs:

## Program Network Rating
56 Dick Van Dyke CBS N/A
57 Mannix CBS N/A
58 Streets of San Francisco ABC N/A
59 Brady Bunch ABC N/A
60 McGovern CBS N/A
61 Anna & King CBS N/A
62 McGovern CBS N/A
63 McGovern CBS N/A
64 NBC Reports NBC N/A
65 Alias Smith & Jones ABC N/A

For the record, program titles are written exactly the way they were published in 1972.

That’s The New Dick Van Dyke Show in the 56th position. The three “McGovern” programs on the list are paid political advertisements for George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign.


“NBC is first out of the chute in new Nielsens.” Broadcasting. 2 Oct. 1972: 39.

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6 Replies to “Nielsen Bottom 10, September 11th-17th, 1972”

  1. My family watched “Anna and the King” every week. It is a shame that the mass audience did not take to it. It is interesting that it aired before “M*A*S*H” (which also do not do great in the ratings its first season), because they were both based on novels that were later made into movies by 20th Century-Fox. Maybe that studio insisted they air back-to-back.

  2. I’m glad that Senator McGovern’s paid political advertisements weren’t the absolute lowest rated programs of the week — someone must have been watching them.
    (I’m too young to have voted in 1972, but in the 1990s, when Ross Perot was running for president, I loved his half-hour paid advertisements. They were more entertaining than most network programs!)

  3. I think this episode of BRADY BUNCH was a rerun because next week starts the famous three part Hawaiian trip episodes. I believe those episodes opened the fourth season. Remember watching them first run back in the day at age eight!

    1. According to my TV Guide for the week (1972-73 Fall Preview), THE BRADY BUNCH was preempted by a special that had the Brady Kids previewing ABC’s Saturday morning programs for the new fall season. It was probably clobbered in the ratings by the 2nd Season premiere of SANFORD AND SON and return of SONNY AND CHER COMEDY HOUR.

      1. The special episode was titled ‘The Brady Bunch Meets the Saturday Superstars’, airing Friday Sept 15, 1972 and rating 12.2HH/24%.

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