1988-89 Television Ratings -- The Schedule as We Knew It

Written Reporting Changing Dynamics by Bridger Cunningham.

1988-89 suffered due to the WGA Writer's Strike of 1988-89 delaying the start of productions as the strike lasted from March 17-August 8, 1988, during summer writing and production time.  In this development, several shows perished in direct correlation, most notably Kate & Allie, Moonlighting, Miami Vice & Moonlighting.  Out of the ashes, ABC continued to blaze a bright trail into 2nd as its Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday sitcoms transfused new blood into the network.  NBC continued to rule Monday, Thursday and Saturday, while CBS claimed a scant Sunday lineup.  Roseanne became the 2nd Place champ, shaking NBC's monopoly despite being in 1st.  And of course, this season birthed notice for FOX, who found themselves embroiled in censorship controversy which left market affiliates scrambling to locate networks for the newest network.  Scan through the schedule and get a pictorial of how and why shows were spared or dispensed.

This, along with other diverse entries of ratings data can be found in the TVRG Ratings Library, located at the following link: http://www.tvratingsguide.com/2018/01/tvrg-ratings-library.html


Sundays again belonged to CBS due to their clean, sturdy helpings of top 10 60 Minutes and Murder She Wrote, as well as their Top 30 movie.  FOX indirectly ignited crass attention due to a suggestive January episode of Married... With Children.  After a busy(body) housewife took cause with the network's tone, people asked "FOX Who?" and the numbers surged, pushing past ABC during MWC's timeslot.  NBC's evening outside of their movie underwhelmed.  Family Ties elected to end their run, while dependent Day by Day failed to show it could support itself and was axed after 2 seasons.  Disney performed respectively in an undesired space and faced little competition from ABC or FOX.  ABC's woes continued on this evening due to a failed revival of "That's Incredible," a mixture of underperforming dramas, dying Moonlighting, and their landmark movie underperforming NBC and CBS by a small margin.


NBC continued to rule Mondays with simple scheduling with Top-20 ALF enjoying another astronomical season.  The Hogan Family's post-controversy bump waned, and thankfully the Monday Night movie saved the evening.  The remains of the evening found few Top-30 players.  ABC kept it consistent with MacGyver followed by Football and Movies.  CBS endured a disastrous mess of constant sitcom shuffling consisting of stellar penciling of Designing Women, newfound news in Murphy Brown, aging mi-80's favorites Newhart and Kate & Allie, and several failed freshman pilots.  Drama Almost Grown tanked, so CBS sought to innovate colonizing the 10:00 hour with sitcoms.  The design waned, and the network was forced to go back to the drawing board after Kate & Allie's cancellation.


ABC reinvented their Tuesday lineup with new sitcom Roseanne belting out crass laughs.  Initially placed behind 8:30 development bed of Who's the Boss?, Roseanne was promptly moved to 9:00 following Moonlighting's creative eclipse.  In its place, The Wonder Years performed strong, and the 9:30 timeslot performed well with underappreciated Anything but Love with thirtysomething successfully taking 2nd at 10:00.  NBC experienced success as Matlock took 2nd with Matlock and new drama In the Heat of the Night placing in the top 20, and new drama Midnight Caller managed to ring higher than thirtysomething on competing ABC.

CBS' fortunes were bleaker as TV 101 plummeted, and Tour of Duty churned out a soft rating at 8:00.  As usual, the Tuesday Movie performed middle bar.


ABC again swept the evening with a similar results.  Growing Pains was down, Head of the Class slightly up and Wonder Years improved its timeslot.  After moving to Tuesdays in February, Coach made an underwhelming debut yet showed signs of growth.  The 9:30 timeslot again presented a black hole as Hooperman bombed out, and an equally underwhelming The Robert Guillaume Show lowered the bar further.  China Beach performed mediocre in its 10:00 timeslot yet improved on ailing Dynasty's performance the prior spring.

NBC ruled the first half of the evening as Unsolved Mysteries and Night Court again cracked the top 20.  The last half of the schedule, however, went black with failures and shifts.  The ony victory CBS could claim was it was even with ABC's China Beach at 10:00.  The rest of the schedule consisted of two failed sitcoms, an aging drama's death and two failure dramas.


NBC again ruled Thursday evening with the only change being Night Court was swapped out with new sitcom Dear John.  CBS came miles down in 2nd as 48 Hours proved stable in the 8:00 hour.  Freshman drama Paradise Cove performed mediocore, so CBS burned off the the remains of The Equalizer for the rest of the 9:00 showings.  Knots Landing experienced a brief uptick back into the top 30 at 10:00, easily defeating ABC's W5 and Heartbeat.  ABC experienced trouble locating a single hit this evening, airing out the last and disastrous season of Dynasty sandwiched with failures.


ABC finally located a winning lineup, initially treating Full House as a fragile sitcom needing a boost.  After overtaking Perfect Strangers, the network shook up its lineup and slid Full House to 8:00 to boost Mr. Belvedere and use Perfect Strangers at 9:00 to build sophomore Just The Ten of Us.  CBS experienced unilateral erosions as Dallas fell out of the top 30 and Falcon Crest declined,and Beauty and the Beast giving lackluster results.  NBC may have won the season, but failed to colonize Friday with hits.  Father Dowling made a modest hit, and Quantum Leap made a soft debut.  Elsewhere, veteran Miami Vice limped out its last season, and other freshman dramas tanked.


Once again, NBC located another impeccable Saturday evening lineup.  Following The Facts of Life ending, 227 took the 8:00 timeslot, allowing successful Golden Girls spinoff Empty Nest to give NBC its 2nd top 10 hit.  Hunter reached into the top 20 due to a stronger lead-in, with the network's only failure a summer sitcom called 13 East.  FOX abandoned Saturday sitcoms and loaded the evening with news and reality TV to moderate success.  COPS made a springtime debut, becoming the network's leading staple for 22 years.  Look elsewhere, and ABC and NBC and wonder why the schedule looks like a black hole.  Only Mission: Impossible and Paradise scraped enough renewal energy to make it to the next season.

Source: http://dictionary.sensagent.com/1988%E2%80%9389_United_States_network_television_schedule/en-en/

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