Nerd Exclusive: Nielsen Data (1964-1974)

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! Following one of my favorite Wildcard posts ever — our July 2017 piece on My World And Welcome To It — I’ve been inspired to seek out as much information as I can find regarding national final Nielsen rankings beyond the annual Top 30 (which can easily be found online). Thanks to Variety‘s archives, along with data collected from period newspapers and old copies of both Television and Broadcasting Magazine, I’ve been able to locate some of what I, and many of you, have been seeking. However, there are still gaps…

First, I want to note that I’m not a ratings nerd by nature. I’m only interested in entertaining programming. However, as a quasi-historian, I’m also fascinated by the decisions that former network heads made based on the data they were receiving from Nielsen (and Arbitron and Trendex, etc.), specifically during the time of the somewhat erroneously labeled “Rural Purge,” when television seemingly went through a major cultural upheaval. Sadly though, the years for which we’re most interested in securing additional data — 1969-’70 and 1970-’71 — are the two with the most significant absences in published information (see more below).

Additionally, there are still questions that I’ve been unable to answer from other years, too… like where exactly did He & She fall at the end of ’67-’68? Top 50? And where was That Girl during that season? How low was it? I don’t have all those answers today, but I hope to find them eventually… Meanwhile, with the data that we do have, you’ll also note a few discrepancies, for as you’ll see, the published “Top 30” lists generally account for the period of October to April (the exception in this post is the ’73-’74 Top 30, which includes September as well), while Variety’s data, in particular, often includes the premiere month of September. So, in a lot of cases, the material I’m sharing here is only able to give you an idea of how a show did and where it placed in relation to its competition at season’s end.

I’ve chosen to cover the decade from 1964-’74, because it not only contains the years of the “Rural Purge,” but also because I think it’s, in total, the period for which we television data-seekers have the most questions. So here’s what I have, by season…

 

1964-65

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

In the August 1967 issue of Television, readers were treated to a list of the season’s offerings that ranked between #30 and #70. They are listed in relation to their average rating (and the same #30 title as the above makes these two lists seem congruous), although you’ll see the average share printed below, instead of the rating.

 

1965-66

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

In the August 1967 issue of Television, readers were treated to a list of the season’s offerings that ranked between #30 and #70. They are listed in relation to their average rating (and the same #30 title as the above makes these two lists seem congruous), although you’ll see the average share printed below, instead of the rating. OF NOTE: Both The Munsters and The Addams Family, without changing time slots, dropped from being in the Top 30 in their debut seasons to outside the Top 60. No wonder they were cancelled.

 

1966-67

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

In the August 1967 issue of Television, readers were treated to a list of the season’s offerings that ranked between #30 and #70. They are listed in relation to their average rating (and once more, these two lists seem congruous), although you’ll see the average share printed below instead of the rating. OF NOTE: Gunsmoke made the Top 40; Gilligan’s Island barely made the Top 50. Also, none of the game shows cracked the Top 70. Their cancellations should therefore have been unsurprising. (And this “purge” wasn’t due to demo problems — obviously.)

 

1967-68

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

I don’t have a Top 70 for this season, but I was able to find the Top 40, as printed by Variety in May ’68. The list looks like it covers the same dates as the one above. OF NOTE:  The sitcoms in between 31 and 40 included The Flying Nun, Petticoat Junction, Get Smart, The Mothers-In-Law, and Hogan’s Heroes — in that order — and all of them were renewed.

Although I don’t have a complete listing of the season’s programs, and am still unsure of where He & She officially fell, Variety printed the complete results from a two-week Nielsen period lasting from late September to early October. OF NOTE: He & She came in at #35. (Other data from the first two months of the year has He & She at various spots within the Top 40. Based on what I’ve seen, I think it ended somewhere in between 40 and 50.)

 

1968-69

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

In September 1969, Variety published a list of the prior season’s Top 51. You’ll see that the order is slightly different than the one above — because it purports to factor in “Premiere 1968,” while the above starts in October. The Top 30 is almost the same (despite different numbers), but the biggest change is that The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour is #31 below, and #15 above. (It premiered in January ’69.) Also, OF NOTE: The Good Guys, Petticoat Junction, Hogan’s Heroes, and The Mothers-In-Law made this list’s Top 40. All but the latter were renewed.

 

1969-70

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

As mentioned above, I sadly have no formal listing beyond the Top 30 for the 1969-’70 season. The only thing of note that I found in Variety was published in September 1970, and it cited — by demographics — the ratings breakdown for all RETURNING programs. That is, there’s information here for The Governor And J.J., but not Petticoat Junction. Also, the listing is alphabetical, which means that there’s no ranking.

 

1970-71

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

Variety didn’t have anything about the season’s final ratings, and instead published this interesting blurb in May. I have questions about where All In The Family ended up (some say #34), and where this was in relation to both The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. I’ve also wanted to know where Arnie fell, for it’s the show Wood chose over Family Affair (which likely was just outside the Top 30).

 

1971-72

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

Variety offered a complete ranking of the season’s shows in May ’72. The numbers are different than the above, because of the date parameters, and while all the series in the Top 30 are the same, a few are in a different order. OF NOTE: The Brady Bunch and The Odd Couple made the Top 40. Arnie, The Jimmy Stewart Show, and My Three Sons all made the Top 50. But they were cancelled. Also, see Bewitched? It’s way down there at #72.

 

1972-73

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of October to April.

Variety offered a complete ranking of the season’s shows in May ’73. Once again, the numbers are different than the above, because of the date parameters, and the order among the Top 30 is slightly different. OF NOTE: The Odd Couple and The Doris Day Show both made the Top 40. The New Dick Van Dyke Show hit #55 (having fallen from #18 in the year before), but was renewed. Also, The Paul Lynde Show tied MASH at #46 here, but was cancelled.

 

1973-74

First, the Top 30 as printed by The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946-Present), comprising the period of September to April.

Variety offered a complete ranking of the season’s shows in May ’74.  The two lists’ numbers are, again, slightly different — due to date parameters. Marcus Welby, Mannix, and Apple’s Way all made the Top 30 according to the below list, but were edged out in the formal ranking above. OF NOTE: The New Dick Van Dyke Show, in its last season, was hovering around #40. The Odd Couple and The Girl With Something Extra both made the Top 50. Lotsa Luck and The Brady Bunch (both cancelled) made the Top 60. And the well-reviewed Calucci’s Department was last.

 

 

Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in Tuesday for more Frasier!

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29 thoughts on “Nerd Exclusive: Nielsen Data (1964-1974)

  1. Very interesting. It is weird that some shows did so well one year and the next year fell hard. Marcus Welby comes to mind. Thanks for your hard work.

    • Hi, Mark! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I’ve no plans for any similar posts in the near future, but stay tuned because you never know what might come up…

  2. Thanks for posting this. I’m surprised to see THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW did as well as it did, even into Season 2. I’d love to have a way to know what the highest-rated episode of every series, including the clunkers, is, but I know that would take a huge amount of time, expense & effort for whoever did it. I do remember the READER’S DIGEST yearly almanac having a list of the final rankings of every network show, and I was surprised to see that KOJAK eventually fell to #78 in its last year on CBS, after being renewed at #45 the previous season.

    • Hi, Jon! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      The information you’re seeking would have to come directly from Nielsen. To my knowledge, no publication, not even Variety, was publishing weekly data at the time beyond more generalized “CBS won these days, NBC won these days, etc.”

    • With THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, context is everything. Ranking # 44 in 1968-69 was very respectable on the surface, but it was third in its time period behind THE FBI (18th) and ED SULLIVAN (23rd) and worse, was sandwiched between DISNEY (21st) and BONANZA (3rd) on Sunday nights, losing a lot of viewers in between two top hits. It’s the same situation that got BRANDED cancelled in 1965-66 despite finishing in 32nd place: sharp loss of viewers between the same two hits, though it was actually ahead of THE FBI in the time period and averaged a 31.9 share. BRANDED also dropped noticeably in the second half of that season; it was in the top 15 through the end of December.

      • That’s correct; this time slot was what Variety often referred to as a “Nielsen Valley.” (We’ve seen this principle before on other nights in other decades; i.e. it didn’t matter if a show made the Top 10 behind FRIENDS if it still lost “too much” of its predecessor’s audience…) However, we must also note, in this case, that the Sunday 8:30 slot on NBC was owned by Proctor & Gamble, and they wielded enough power to determine what stayed and what went.

        Despite the fact that the series ranked higher in its first season that in its second, it actually got a slightly lower rating — and NBC was already eager to dump it after Season One. P&G, on the other hand, wasn’t interested in anything else that NBC had to offer (like THE GHOST & MRS MUIR, which was being heavily pushed), and once Arnaz managed to reduce costs (thus leading to the infamous Carmel replacement), it was given an official second season renewal.

        With similar numbers at the top of Year Two, NBC was hoping to cancel the show at midseason, but P&G again protested and it wasn’t until early ’69, when P&G finally found something else to champion — THE BILL COSBY SHOW — that THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW became no longer of interest… Given this history though, it’s not hard to imagine that if P&G decided it was up for a third year of THE-MOTHERS-IN-LAW, NBC would have reluctantly been up for it, too.

        • I’ve read in multiple places that there was a possibility that ABC would have taken THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW if NBC had cancelled it. Was this ever mentioned in VARIETY or any other publication, or was this just a rumor? I know ABC took THE GHOST & MRS. MUIR when NBC cancelled it. I’d love to know.

          Here is a link to a great online article that states how BRANDED was to be renewed for a 3rd season in 1966. HEY LANDLORD! was originally scheduled for Monday nights at 8:30 PM ET, but Roger Miller’s variety show instead took that, and HEY, LANDLORD! pushed BRANDED into cancellation:

          https://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/nbc_1966_schedule/

          • I haven’t seen anything mentioning THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW and ABC, specifically — not at the end of the first year, nor at the end of the second. However, in November ’68, Variety explains that P&G threatened to “yank their biz” away from NBC over THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW being canned at midseason, which suggests that a move to another network was possible (with the assumption here being P&G would remain the show’s champion; I’m not sure if there was EVER any life left for this series once P&G found something to prefer).

  3. First, thanks for posting all this. A few observations:
    1) Interesting that ‘Get Smart’ wasn’t in the Top 51 (why 51?) when NBC cancelled it in the spring of 1969. Purely from a ratings point of view, NBC seems justified in cancelling it. My understanding is that the cancellation took the cast by surprise. Also, the decision to marry Max & 99 during the fourth season obviously didn’t help the ratings.
    2) Odd that NBC would cancel ‘The Ghost & Mrs. Muir’ in 41st place, while CBS renewed ‘Hawaii 5-O’ in 46th — a decision that would pay big dividends for CBS over the next ten years.
    3) The mystery continues about why ‘F Troop’ left the air in 1967. It didn’t slip at all (in the ratings) from season 1 to season 2. I know there’s a debate over who axed the show — ABC or Warner Brothers. It’s hard to imagine third-place ABC wanting to cancel a show in 40th place, while renewing shows below it. (How did ‘Hollywood Palace’ last six years? Cheap to produce?)
    4) ‘Green Acres’ appears to be between 30th and 35th place during the 1969-70 season, if you rank the shows listed in that chart. I know CBS was considering cancelling it then, but held off a year.
    5) ‘The Brady Bunch’ and ‘Love, American Style’ appear to have been in the ratings toilet that year. I guess last-place ABC figured it had nothing to lose by renewing them, because clearly their ratings merited cancellation.
    6) ‘The Brady Bunch’ was a solid 31st place for the ’71-’72 season, only to drop to 45th a year later. I guess you can blame ‘Sanford & Son.’
    7) Ratings for the 1970-71 season seem to be more closely guarded than the Manhattan Project. TV buffs want to know where ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Green Acres’ ranked when CBS cancelled them, but I’d also like to know where ‘The Odd Couple’ stood as ABC renewed it. Supposedly, it was near the bottom, but critics were raving about it. Where was ‘That Girl in its last season? And where was ‘The Brady Bunch,’ since it must have improved over its 1969-70 showing, especially with the compatible ‘The Partridge Family’ in the lineup.

    Alas, we may never get answers to some of these questions.

    • Hi, Tgibbs! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Here’s what I can say about your shrewd observations:

      1) Variety suggests NBC “overcommitted” to new product and had less leeway that year to keep middling shows. So, because GET SMART’s ranking declined double digits every season after its first (even with a move to an earlier time that aimed to capitalize upon an increase in younger viewers — à la I DREAM OF JEANNIE), it was no longer as safe or desirable in January 1969 as many associated with the show may have still believed. (Incidentally, it probably wasn’t far outside of the Top 50, though. It ranked as #50 at the end of February.)

      2) HAWAII FIVE-O jumped from being in the 70s while in its 8:00 Thursday slot to the Top 20s in its 10:00 Wednesday slot. The upswing after this legendary midseason Mike Dann move was more than enough to justify a last-minute February reprieve. THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR, without any shifts or changes in its competition, seemed to go in the opposite direction — Top 20s as late as November, and then slipping to “marginal” (whatever THAT means to Variety), making it potentially worthy of a pink slip, by January. And again, NBC had by then “overcommitted” to new product…

      3) F TROOP was on ABC’s next season roster in February ’67 and there’s nothing about it going anywhere… until it’s not on the late March listing. I’d guess its fate was likely a Warner Brothers decision, especially since ABC was scrambling to fill its schedule at the last minute. Meanwhile, THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE seems to have been “good enough” for ABC… until it wasn’t. Apparently, it was subject to cancellation in 1969, but ABC believed the show’s fortunes were dependent on who was booked and how it was promoted. Unlike a series with fixed characters or a sustaining host, ABC felt PALACE could be situationally advantageous, like a regularly programmed weekly special.

      4) Yes, I believe it was discussed. But PETTICOAT JUNCTION had been out of the Top 30 two seasons longer and, even if it ended ’69-’70 slightly higher than GREEN ACRES, it had already been floated for cancellation at the end of ’68-’69 and was therefore closer to the block in ‘70. Had CBS decided to be even more bold, GREEN ACRES may have been thrown out then, too — although remember, it had only just left the Top 20 (which was better than both LASSIE and HOGAN’S HEROES, incidentally). For more context: Variety — based on numbers alone — knew PETTICOAT JUNCTION was iffy that January. So, it was already in a different category than GREEN ACRES, whatever their rankings ended up being.

      5) Both THE BRADY BUNCH and LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE improved at midseason. The former fared better against CBS’ THE TIM CONWAY SHOW than it had against THE GOOD GUYS, and ABC said they’d keep it around to help fill out a whole evening of lighthearted counterprogramming against the other two networks. LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE, meanwhile, benefited from its midseason move to Fridays, where it started showing it had legs by outperforming CBS’ Friday Night Movies.

      6) Yes, SANFORD AND SON took out a number of shows — including one I’d like to discuss here eventually, CBS’ CALUCCI’S DEPARTMENT; stay tuned…

      7) I’ve searched for answers to all these questions. I only can provide generalities at the moment. As late as March, both GREEN ACRES and THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES were still making the Top 40. In February, they were both hovering around 30 and pulling 30-ish shares. I believe they fell somewhere within this 30-40 range. THE ODD COUPLE, on the other hand, was notoriously low in its initial time slot. (In mid December, it was 0.2 ratings points worse than BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, just cancelled.) It would not have survived if ABC hadn’t moved it to Fridays, where they gave it time to crack the Top 60, then the Top 50, and then even the Top 40. It still probably ended low (60s maybe), but because ABC liked it, the show got a chance to illustrate some viability.

      Meanwhile, little was written about THAT GIRL’s numbers because Marlo Thomas had already announced she was done before the season started. I know it still was in the Top 40 for the 18-49 demographic. As for THE BRADY BUNCH, it was also in the Top 40 with the 18-49 demo, and occasionally cracked the Top 40 with total viewers, too. This leads me to believe it probably ended somewhere in the vicinity of #50, but that’s just an educated guess.

  4. Great post. I researched the 1966-67 numbers heavily for a post on F Troop’s fate several years back. It definitely seems to have been a Warner Brothers decision, one orchestrated by Benny Kalmenson, VP of Warners who also dismissed “Bonnie and Clyde” as a “POS” later that same year. Kalmenson was also likely responsible for a number of (New York based) AP reports suggesting F Troop had become “too expensive to produce” after the April cancellation. According to William T. Orr, those cost overruns amounted to a total of ….$3,000, or less than $100 per episode!

  5. It’s great to have access to detailed ratings information like this, because it allows all of us to see that some of the widely-accepted “conventional wisdom” about TV history is flat-out wrong.
    Case in point: it’s just accepted as a given that ratings for PETTICOAT JUNCTION slipped — some would even say “tanked” — when June Lockhart replaced the late Bea Benaderet. I saw an online article today making that claim — with no supporting evidence. It’s just casually mentioned as if it’s common knowledge.
    But look at the ratings for the 1967-68 season (Benaderet’s last). PJ is in 35th place with a rating of 19.0.
    Then look at the 1968-69 season (Lockhart’s first). PJ is in 38th place. Granted, that’s down slightly. But the show’s rating is actually better, at 19.9. So ratings WENT UP slightly when Lockhart replaced Benaderet.
    This turns the conventional wisdom about PETTICOAT JUNCTION on its head. Fascinating stuff.

    • PETTICOAT JUNCTION probably never left the Top 40. But those aforementioned ’67-’68 and ’68-’69 lists are not exactly comparable due to the different measured timeframes. What they do indicate, rather, is a relative consistency — one that we have reason to believe, based on reporting for a couple of ’69-’70 weeklies, was maintained for an additional year. (It’s also suggested that PETTICOAT didn’t drop below an annual 30 share average, even in ‘70.)

      Nevertheless, I have to reiterate: Variety put the series on its “death watch” in both January 1969 and January 1970… Based on the rankings alone, this may not make sense. But it does with context — assuming here that CBS’ goal was to drop a long-running, cost-increasing half-hour no longer indicating a potential for growth (which was necessary now given the elevated competition posed by NBC) — because PETTICOAT was tied only with HOGAN’S HEROES as CBS’ established comedy with the most years outside the seasonal Top 30 (three by ’70).

      In fact, I’d argue that PETTICOAT JUNCTON was long perceived as the weakest of Henning’s trio — ever since it spent three years behind the growing RED SKELTON and instead moved in the opposite direction. Thus, Variety was far more surprised — and rightfully so — about Skelton’s fate, and even Gleason’s, than PETTICOAT’s; it wasn’t the first time that it was on CBS’ figurative chopping block. (Incidentally, HOGAN’S was only reportedly there in 1969.)

      Ultimately, PETTICOAT JUNCTION’s performance grew less impressive as the other particulars of the era (increased competition, the upcoming FCC ruling, Wood’s personal agenda) forced a decision-making process that was simultaneously more nuanced and stringent. And as I’ve said before, I think the common “demos” argument wasn’t even the guiding determinant here…

      But you’re right: the series didn’t fall post-Benaderet; it stayed where it had already fallen. By 1970, that was license for a serious cost analysis.

      • Jackson, Interesting to read with Petticoat Junction because while I realize that shows do become more costly the longer they are on, I had also read that the main reason Petticoat Junction was renewed for 69-70 was financial as well though for the opposite reason. As it was one of the shows that fell into the B &W/color era the last season would give Screengems over 100 color episodes and thus make it easy to syndicate. I would love to see you do an article some day on syndication and some of these Sitcoms where B & W episodes where often left off the syndication package (Bewitched and My Three Sons were two others I can think of). I was well into adulthood before I even realized that Jeannine Reilly and Pat Woodall were the original daughters in the first two seasons

        • I guess it was Filmways not Screengems and I guess there were already over 100 episodes in color however the Wikipedia entry on the show does mention it was saved at the last minute in part because the network felt one more season of color episodes would make the show more lucrative in syndication implying that CBS may have had some profit in the syndication of the show as well

          • Hi, Bob! Thanks for reading and commenting.

            Yes, CBS did stand to profit off the show’s syndication and that could have been a factor in its survival in ’69. I have never seen that confirmed anywhere else though.

            I think it’s also important to contextualize that aforementioned January Variety article putting PETTICOAT JUNCTION on “death watch” as coming right when CBS looked likely to lose the season to NBC for the first time since the mid-’50s, because then the tides began to change and CBS started to climb ahead — thanks to a few of Mike Dann’s midseason swaps (including the legendary HAWAII FIVE-O move). So, by the time the next year’s decisions were being made (mid-February), the network was already more comfortable than it had been a month prior. In fact, I think PETTICOAT was now safe going into the big meeting, discussed that summer in TVGuide, because CBS’ fortunes were once again on the upswing.

            (Incidentally though, the ratings competition heated back up in March, so it was still a horse race until the end of ’68-’69, when CBS had to get more crafty. This was why Dann’s Operation 100 the next year really was his last stand — NBC’s lead in the fall of ’69 began looking like a pattern, and once the midseason swaps didn’t change things as they had the year before, he really was fighting for his life at the network. Especially now that Bob Wood was there to pull the trigger on a modernization that had only been theoretical under Tom Dawson.)

  6. I have a couple of questions that are partially outside this 1964-74 time frame. But here goes:

    Some TV shows slip in the ratings, gradually, as people lose interest or the show goes downhill. That’s easy to understand.
    But when a TV show — especially a successful one — suddenly loses one-fourth or one-third of its audience, there has to be a reason. Something specific has happened.

    THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES was number one in the spring of 1964. It was setting records. Then, in the first ratings report in the fall of ’64, it was in 22nd place. It bounced back later, and was in 12th place for the season as a whole, but something had to happen to cause that sudden ratings drop. Poor lead-in from CBS REPORTS?

    ALL IN THE FAMILY was number one for five consecutive seasons. Then, in the fall of 1976, it dropped from first to 12th. Yeah, it changed time slots a couple of times that season. Is that the reason? Is there something else? A show that popular doesn’t suddenly lose a fourth of its audience, which is what happened.

    I’m a fan of both shows. I’ve read a lot about both of them. I’ve never seen anyone address either of these sudden ratings declines.

    • TBH did in fact have a timeslot change as it started its 3rd season in Sept. 1964. It was moved 1/2 hour earlier, as was the show after it, Dick Van Dyke, on Wed. nights, probably to make room for THE CARA WILLIAMS SHOW in Van Dyke’s old timeslot, and its ratings suffered, probably as a result of the time change. Cara Williams’ show was 1 of 3 that Keefe Braselle produced and got onto the CBS schedule that season without pilots. He was a close friend of CBS then-president Jim Aubrey, and these shows all flopped, and i’ve read that this failure was a big part of what led to Aubrey’s firing by Bill Paley just months later in Feb. 1965.

    • Tgibbs, Jon is right; THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES was moved up half an hour (from 9:00 to 8:30) and given a terrible lead-in with CBS NEWS REPORTS. The news, most of it election related that fall, lost to both ABC’s comedy block and NBC’s competitive THE VIRGINIAN, which extended into THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES’ time and held on to too many viewers who didn’t switch over to CBS until THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW began at 9:00.

      Once CBS’ 7:30-8:30 hour was given slightly better offerings via MR. ED and MY LIVING DOLL, the network made a dent in the competition and kept more viewers watching CBS through 9:30. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES was then able to climb a few points. With a better lead-in the following season, the series got back into the Top Ten, but at close to the same annual ratings average. (It was still up against THE VIRGINIAN, which was always a worthy rival.)

      As for ALL IN THE FAMILY, the same thing happened in ’76-’77: the timeslot changed, it faced stronger competition, and the lead-in was weaker. In this case, I think it’s important to note the value of being in a block of successful programming. Although it was up against Monday Night Football the year before, ALL IN THE FAMILY held onto a #1 ranking and a 30+ rating, in large part *because* it was within a hit line-up of four Top Ten comedies.

      When it was moved in Fall ’76 to Wednesday, it was sandwiched between two new sitcoms, while the 8:00 anchor was GOOD TIMES (a Top 30 series, not Top Ten). These neighbors were far less competitive… especially when up against an entire block that actually worked: ABC’s THE BIONIC WOMAN and BARETTA (followed by CHARLIE’S ANGELS at 10:00).

      Interestingly, though, while that move to Wednesday took down about five ratings points for ALL IN THE FAMILY, three more came off when it moved to Saturdays, where the competition wasn’t as steep, but the programming block also left a lot to be desired — MTM’s famed duo was barely strong enough to fend off its rivals when launching the season in the 9:00 hour and wasn’t a strong enough lead-in for ALL IN THE FAMILY that winter/spring either.

      ALL IN THE FAMILY essentially went from a great neighborhood to a mediocre neighborhood (TWICE!) and I think that can account for the seemingly sharp decline. And, once again, as with THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES over a decade before, the timeslot changed, it faced stronger competition, and the lead-ins were weaker. So, the ratings changed in some kind of relation to differing variables.

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