NEW YORK -- The Nielsen ratings _ the barometer of life and death to network shows _ have been around nearly as long as television, but now, thanks to a squabble over when the 1980-81 season really began, there are two sets of them.
NBC, not so crippled by the actor's strike as its competitors, will swear on holy writ the season began eight weeks ago.
Not so, say CBS and ABC _ it began two weeks ago.
Therefore, according to NBC, 'after eight weeks, NBC is still Number One.'
And, says CBS, 'In the second week of the 1980-81 season, CBS once again was the decisive winner.'
NBC's eight-week ranking gives NBC a season average of 19.5 per cent to 17.4 for CBS and 17.3 for ABC. CBS ranks the season to date as CBS 21.0 per cent, ABC 18.1 and NBC 15.6.
However one plays the numbers game, 'Dallas' is hard to beat.
CBS, still riding the 'Who Shot J.R.' bandwagon, packed the week ending Nov. 11 with no less than four sessions with the Ewing family which, with other network sitcoms, swept the week's Top 10 listing. A 'Dallas' Sunday night special won a whopping 40 per cent of all television homes. Other segments were run in the regular Thursday time slot, with a double-header on Friday, just to help everybody catch up.
The Top 10, according to the A.C. Neilsen Co. were:
1. Dallas _ Sunday (CBS).
2. Dallas _ 10 p.m. Friday (CBS).
3. The Jeffersons (CBS).
4. Dallas _ 9 p.m. Friday (CBS).
5. Alice (CBS).
6. 60 Minutes (CBS).
7. One Day at a Time (CBS).
8. Archie's Place (CBS).
9. Dallas _ Thursday (CBS).
10. Love Boat (ABC).