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NBC Keeps Rolling in the Ratings

March 23, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC, predicting its biggest season win yet, continues to add potentially successful new series, but new comedies on CBS failed to grab viewers and moved the network toward its first last-place ratings finish.

ABC fared best with new fare last week, adding the critically praised nostalgia comedy ″The Wonder Years″ to the A.C. Nielsen Co. top 10. NBC’s pilot for ″In the Heat of the Night″ tied for 15th in the rankings, though it remains to be seen how the series will do on a weekly basis.

CBS, meanwhile, failed with its attempt to add new comedies to its Monday and Tuesday nights. The best performer was ″Eisenhower & Lutz,″ which ranked 31st.

For the week that ended Sunday, NBC had an average, prime-time rating of 15.8; CBS 12.9 and ABC 12.6. With four weeks left in the season, NBC leads with a 16.3, ABC 13.9 and CBS 13.6. CBS would have to beat ABC by two points a week to tie for second. CBS has never finished a season in third place in the 35 years that Nielsen has done television ratings.

The ″CBS Evening News,″ however, was still in first place, with an average rating of 11.6. ABC’s ″World News Tonight″ had a 10.8 and ″NBC Nightly News″ 9.7.

The rating is a percentage of the nation’s 88.6 million households with televisions.

Here is last week’s top 10: ″The Cosby Show″ NBC, ″A Different World″ NBC, ″Golden Girls″ NBC, ″60 Minutes″ CBS, ″Who’s the Boss?″ ABC, ″Cheers″ NBC, ″The Wonder Years″ ABC, ″Night Court″ NBC, ″Murder, She Wrote″ CBS and ″Growing Pains″ ABC. Half of the top 10 shows were repeats, as the networks, faced with a strike by scriptwriters, began to conserve new episodes for the May sweeps.

CBS added ″Eisenhower & Lutz″ to its Monday night lineup, moving ″Frank’s Place″ to Tuesday, where the rest of the lineup dragged that critically acclaimed series down to 65th of 77 rankings. The other new comedies CBS tried on Tuesday were steamrollered by ABC’s normally strong lineup, including ″The Wonder Years.″ It replaced ″Growing Pains,″ which moved to Wednesday night where it continues to be a top-10 show.

CBS’ ″Coming of Age,″ starring Paul Dooley as an acerbic former airline pilot struggling to adjust to a sunny retirement village, was 59th. At a dismal 75th was ″My Sister Sam,″ a formerly high-rated comedy reprised by CBS to fill in for the new ″The Dictator,″ which was delayed by the Writers Guild strike. ″Trial and Error,″ a Hispanic ″Odd Couple,″ was 76th.

NBC did well with a TV version of the classic film ″Inherit the Wind,″ starring Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas. It ranked 14th.

″In the Heat of the Night″ was a pilot for a potential fall series starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard Rollins in a remake of the hit movie.

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