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1977-78 Ratings History -- ABC Does Its Second Jiggle Into 1st Place Thanks to a Controversial Soap


Written Looking for the Missing Fawcett by Bridger Cunningham


The 1977-78 Nielsen Ratings Data was previously unavailable when TV Ratings Guide profiled it on July 19, 2017.  However, a comprehensive search through historic newspapers uncovered a rankings list from the season, albeit without ratings.  Enjoy the update, as well as a view of the newspaper clipping at the conclusion of the article.

Charlie's Angels became a source of controversy due to attire.  Enter Soap, a sitcom ripping on suds which held a pilot so controversial, several affiliates refused to air it.  The results?  ABC jiggled in suds for a record-setting 2nd year.  On the G-rated side, viewers enjoyed a healthy dose of nostalgia with Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days, family-friendly fodder with How the West Was Won, Eight is Enough, the Love Boat, Family and Fantasy Island.  And a vexing dose of sin with Three's Company and Soap.  CBS relied on sitcoms in its weakened state, as the relevance era lost out to fantasy and pleasure.  NBC registered a 3rd year in 3rd Place, and prospects continued to crumble for the peacock as its top-30 feathers were plucked one by one.  The hard cut for cancellation rest below 67th Place for all television shows.


Trending Hot -- ABC, 123....  The late 70's were a golden era for the network as it finally clawed its way into 1st Place in 1976.  ABC sitcoms became the trend for the genre, as well as fantasy and lighthearted shows.  Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, Three's Company and Soap gave people a pleasant distraction from the real world.  Movie Nights displayed stellar performances on all networks.  Law Enforcement shows remained solid deliveries from the 70's, and superheroes jettisoned the charts with their Nielsen superpowers.

Trending Tepid -- CBS lost their momentum, though not the the same extent as NBC.  Their sitcoms performed with mixed results with several rating either highly or at the bottom of the charts.  Variety shows appeared to be losing steam, hot on the heels of the longstanding Carol Burnett Show ending an impressive 11-year run at an abysmal 63rd Place.

Trending Cold -- NBC sent its peacock into a frosty winter in the ratings.  None of their sitcoms were renewed, and they only placed 7 of top 50 shows, renewed 6 shows and 4 movie evenings.  Controversy ran out for CBS as viewers enjoyed lighter fares.

Sources:
1. http://fbibler.chez.com/tvstats/by_5_yr_period/top_programs_1975-1980.html
2. Chicago Tribune, August 20, 1978 -- https://www.newspapers.com/image/198777664/?terms=1977-78%2BSeason%2BNielsen%2BRatings%2Babc%2Bcbs%2Bnbc