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1985-86 Ratings History -- NBC Bubbles to New Heights Due to Sitcoms, ABC and CBS' Soap Bubbles Burst



Written Questioning Oxygen and Water by Bridger Cunningham

NBC soared to new heights this season, thanks to its sitcoms lighting the ratings on fire.  The Cosby Show increased its viewing base by 38%, bringing the network to an overall 20% gain over the previous successful season.  CBS and ABC descended downward, with the Tiffany Network losing 8%, and the alphabet network dropping 13.5%.  Both networks scrambled for new hits to replace the hits which departed, as well as their five returning soaps hemorrhaging a record 20% of their fanbase.


Trending Hot -- Once again, NBC was feeling hot, hot, hot as their overall season grew an impressive 20%.  NBC sitcoms became the rage as the show delivered successful entries over three evenings.  Thursdays and Saturdays became the evenings owned by the networks.  Upscale and urban appeal continued to burn strong, namely on the peacock network.

Trending Tepid -- CBS again took the middle ground.  Murder She Wrote and the Monday sitcoms increased at healthy rates, while their Action Adventure and Procedural Dramas cooled into middling territory.  New(er) ABC sitcoms presented one of the few bright spots on the network in an uneven mess.  Network movie nights also presented a mixed fortune for all three broadcasts.  Though Diff'rent Strokes failed a mid-series network jump, a growing number of cancelled fares found new life in syndication following cancellation.  In spite of most performing to acceptable standards, shows which formed in the early 80's exhibited signs of aging.

Trending Cold -- ABC landed in this category as it experienced significant losses with no anchoring evenings as an overall win.  Soaps became an out trend, as tired cliches hosed their prominent bubble toward the drain.  Dallas and Dynasty dropped significantly, and the remaining three returning entries landed between 17th and 24th place.  Spinoffs remained an unwelcome trend, as Dynasty spinoff The Colbys proved to be no match against NBC's winning sitcom block.  ABC and CBS freshman sitcoms failed miserably with no core-season contenders being renewed.  Anthologies, variety, fantasy and escapism all rated in the lower reaches with few surviving.  And more 70's fares met their endings as The Love Boat, Diff'rent Strokes and Benson made significant hemorrhages and were cancelled.