Oscars Push ABC to Win Ratings Race

From Times Wire Services

ABC broke NBC’s 23-week winning streak in the ratings race last week, with best performance in a supporting role going to the Academy Awards broadcast, it was reported today.

The Oscar show was the most-watched program of the week, earning a 27.9 rating and a 48 share, with ABC estimating that it attracted 70 million viewers for all or part of the broadcast.

Last year the Oscars also were the No. 1 show with more impressive numbers--a 29.8 rating and a 50 share--but they were not enough to put the network in first place for the week.


The lowest-rated Oscars ever were on ABC in 1986, when the show had a 27.3 rating and a 43 share. ABC has has been carrying the Academy Awards since 1961. The highest-rated Academy Awards were on NBC in 1956, when the show had a 46.7 rating and an 82 share.

ABC also had extra help last week from “The Barbara Walters Special,” in sixth place, and the ABC Sunday movie, “Down And Out In Beverly Hills,” tied for 16th, as well as “America’s Funniest Home Videos” in third place and “The Wonder Years” in 10th.

This is the second time this season that ABC has knocked NBC out of first place--the first time was last October when ABC broke NBC’s phenomenal 68-week winning streak with the help of two World Series games.

Both NBC and ABC had new shows that look like winners. Carol Burnett’s “Carol & Company” came in ninth in a special preview on Saturday, a night that NBC owns, and “Bagdad Cafe” with Jean Stapleton and Whoopi Goldberg ranked 18th, giving CBS its highest rating in the time period this season and helping the network win Friday night.

“Sugar & Spice,” which followed “Bagdad Cafe,” tied for 41st place.

ABC’s “Equal Justice” aired as a two-hour movie and tied for 38th, then premiered in its regular time period and came in 45th. Robert Mitchum’s “A Family For Joe” premiered on NBC in its regular time period and came in 44th and “FM” returned to NBC and tied for 52nd.


The top 10 programs and their ratings for week ending April 1, according to A.C. Nielsen Co., were:

1. Academy Awards (ABC) 27.9

2. Cheers (NBC) 23.8

3. Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 21.7

4. The Cosby Show (NBC) 21.4

5. Golden Girls (NBC) 20.4

6. Barbara Walters Special (ABC) 20.3

7. A Different World (NBC) 20.0

8. Unsolved Mysteries (NBC) 19.5

9. Carol & Company (NBC) 19.0

10. Wonder Years (ABC) 18.4