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1978-79 Ratings History -- ABC Enjoys a Hattrick in 1st Place


Written Asking Where The Jiggle in TV Went by Bridger Cunningham

The 1978-79 Nielsen Ratings Data was previously unavailable when TV Ratings Guide profiled it on July 19, 2017.  However, a comprehensive search through historic magazines uncovered complete data from the season.  TVRG continues to undertake locating several years of illusive data from 1963-83; enjoy the update, as well as a view of the clipping at the conclusion of the article.

ABC in 1st Place!?  America was still in disbelief and was in love with the 3rd network.  Still riding on the success of Laverne and Shirley, whom ABC owes its 1st Place prize to, anchored a sitcom-heavy top 30 chart.  Three's Company burgeoned strong due to then-suggestive content, and this season experienced success with fall pilots Mork & Mindy and Taxi entering the ranks.  Given several spring entries in the 70's succeeded, ABC launched Three's spinoff The Ropers and new pilot Angie.  Both burned off within a season.  Less successful were aging Barney Miller, sophomore sensation Soap and What's Happening, which ended after 3 seasons.  Dramas continued strong with Eight is Enough and Charlie's Angels, and the dominated the top 30 with 17 entries.

CBS took a 3rd season in 2nd, with flagship All in the Family fading and ending.  M*A*S*H stayed strong, and the other sitcoms did, okay.  NBC registered a scant 4 entries in the top 30 as it iced its 4th season in 3rd Place in one of the worst decades to grace the network, only topped by the last half of the 2000's.  One question does linger with this data -- where's 20/20?  It aired this season and is nowhere to be found!


Trending Hot -- ABC continued to reign the season with their sitcoms having a stranglehold on the top 20.  One trend transcending all networks was an increased demand for ethnicity during this season.  Movies and Miniseries continued to make popular fodder, even for ailing NBC.

Trending Tepid -- CBS continued to struggle with reinvigorating their brand as majority of their shows landed in the middling reaches in the ratings.  Soaps began to make an intriguing entrance into primetime as Dallas picked up momentum.

Trending Cold -- Sad irony has NBC's icy ratings coloring the charts blue in the lower reaches.  Variety shows also appeared to have grim prospects of making it out of the 70's, as Mary Tyler Moore and the Osmonds ended their franchises, even after rebranding.

Source -- http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC/BC-1979/BC-1979-06-18.pdf