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1973-74 Ratings History -- ABC Descends Upward Due To Popular Movie Nights; An End to the Lucille Ball Era


Written Monitoring Edited Movies by Bridger Cunningham

This article is an update to the August 11, 2017 Top 30 article, as TV Ratings Guide now is the first site to ever publicly disclose the 1973-74 ratings on the internet!  This publication also marks the first time The Brady Bunch's ratings have been made public, albeit the show did not make the cut this season on ABC.  Take a peek at the original newspaper article from 1974 down below, as TVRG owes a debt of gratitude for this rare jewel!

CBS marked a 19th season in 1st Place; not much to report for one of the most disastrous seasons to traipse the TV landscape.  The shocking trend is 8 movie nights registered in the top 30.  Home-use VCRs made their debuts in the 70's and would not become a common household fixture until well into the 80's with a top-loading mechanism.  Back on the color tube, CBS sitcoms followed in the issue-driven trend of 1st Place All in the Family.  Salty Sanford and Son gave NBC its leading icon of the 70's and was well-needed as only 3 shows registered in the top 30.  Irony would hand 10 of those spaces to 3rd Place ABC, which exhibited speculative growth since landing its record-setting 1st Place hit, Dr. Kildare, in 1970.

Image result for here's lucy finale
The Six Million Dollar Man and nostalgic sitcom Happy Days made debuts this season, both registering in the top-20 for the alphabet network.  Sophomore hits The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies and Kung Fu held respectable measures down in the 20's.  And 1974 marked the end of an era as Here's Lucy went black after 6 seasons.  Its marquee star, Lucille Ball, birthed the sitcom as we know it in 1951 and until this season delivered 18 seasons of canned laughter.  Here's Lucy struggled in its last seasons, barely grazing the top 30.  It would be 12 seasons until Lucille Ball returned to television in ABC's failed venture, Lucy.  Rest in peace Lucille, as your legacy lives on with sitcoms still viable in the 2010's.

The hard cut for earning a renewal this season was 43rd place, a high bar considering only 80 showings existed this season with 12 movie evenings.  NBC was hit the hardest, eroding down to levels where ABC resided in 3rd Place.


Trending Hot --  CBS sitcoms making viewers scream or cry rated well as All in the Family, Maude and MASH tackled abrasive social issues.  Police, fire and medical shows sounded their emergency sirens and alerted high Nielsen broadcasts.  Movie Nights gave viewers a gateway to enjoy their beloved older favorites in a pre-cable and VCR era.

Trending Tepid -- 50's and 60's Westerns began to kick up dust as their interest well dried.  ABC and NBC were hit hardest in one of the harshest Nielsen eras, only topped by the late 2000's/2010's.  Variety shows began to run out of material, most notably Sonny and Cher, who were forced to end their flagship show amidst a bitter divorce.

Trending Cold --  ABC and NBC sitcoms had a hard season with only Sanford and Son and Happy Days delivering ratings worth writing home about.  Sadly, this season would dispense of family-friendly sitcoms The Partridge Family and Brady Bunch ended their network run.  Albeit they would live on in syndication eternity decades later.  Sitcoms in general fell out of favor this season, as 22 of the 38 helpings did not make the cut.  Calling TV shows "New" went out of style fast as Dick Van Dyke and Perry Mason didn't hold the same thunder they did in the early 60's.

Source:
1. http://fbibler.chez.com/tvstats/by_5_yr_period/top_programs_1970-1975.html
2. http://startrekfactcheck.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-truth-about-star-trek-and-ratings.html