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1974-75 Ratings History -- Gunsmoke Ends a 20-Year Run, An Unmatched Record for 35 years


Written Itching Off Shag Ratings Carpets by Bridger Cunningham

This article is an update to the August 11, 2017 Top 30 card for 1974-75, as TV Ratings Guide has attained complete data from this referenced year.  TVRG delivers the first online record of the 1974-75 Nielsen Ratings, having recovered this illusive information from historic newspaper archives.

CBS marked its 20th anniversary in 1st Place, and sadly had tdo end a ratings hit of a same age as Gunsmoke fired its last Nielsen bullets.  The last testament to high-rated westerns ended in 28th place, a respectable end for a then-record-setting show.  Consequently, The Simpsons surpassed its "scripted" record in 2009, albeit for comedy.  And Law and Order limped off the 2010 schedule, having matched Gunsmoke.  Elsewhere, Mannix also ended a long-run on CBS with 8 seasons, and a rough season left NBC with only 7 top 30 entries.  ABC again rested in what appeared to be a permanent home in 3rd place, but the dynamics changed the following season.  

NBC slightly rebounded after a disastrous season in 1973-74, inching upward and regaining nearly 2 points in their season average.  CBS gained one point, and ABC lost a mild portion of their hard-earned ground.


Trending Hot -- CBS sitcoms took 8 of the top 20 places, including the landmark event with Rhoda surpassed its parent, Mary Tyler Moore.  Movie nights covered a decent portion of the grid, and a roll of nostalgia became a demand, even for exiting Gunsmoke.  Period pieces such as Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons and Happy Days took people back to a simpler time than the swingin' 70's.

Trending Tepid -- Law Enforcement, Medical and Fire shows sounded a quieter alarm this season as Marcus Welby, MD and other shows aged, and Ironside and Adam-12 left NBC after lengthy runs.  NBC was weakened in the 70's and managed moderate growth this season.

Trending Cold -- ABC sitcoms had a rough year as Happy Days struggled and dropped from 16th to 47th Place, and Barney Miller was the lowest-rated network series renewal at 68th /Place.  In general, the network struggled this season as the competitors exhibited growth vs. loss.

Sources:

1. http://fbibler.chez.com/tvstats/by_5_yr_period/top_programs_1970-1975.html
2. The Times Records, June 2, 1975 -- https://www.newspapers.com/image/58849538/?terms=1974-75%2BSeason%2BNielsen%2BRatings%2Babc%2Bcbs%2Bnbc