NEW YORK -- ABC topped last week's ratings race by a whisper, but wound up in a tie with NBC just past the mid-point in the May sweeps period. CBS led the sweeps by less than a rating point both in Nielsen and Arbitron measurements.
Weekly postings were almost too close to call. ABC won with a rating 15.0 and an audience share of 25, but CBS was close behind at 14.7 and 25 and NBC was barely in its accustomed prime time cellar at 14.5 and 24.
Nineteen days into the Arbitron sweeps measurement, CBS led with 15.3 over ABC and NBC, both of which held at 15.0. By the 18-day-old Nielsen yardstick, CBS was out in front at 15.4, NBC was second at 14.9 and ABC was third at 14.8.
Sweeps periods involve special ratings measurements independently made by the two survey companies upon which ad rates at affiliate stations are based.
Of the three networks, NBC showed the best sweeps improvement over the same period last year. The Peacock was up 13 per cent, both by Arbitron and Nielsen yardsticks. CBS was up 1 per cent and ABC was down 2 per cent.
CBS remained the uncontested king of news programming. Dan Rather and the 'Evening News' carried the week with a rating of 12.0 and a share of 25. NBC's 'Nightly News' was second at 9.9 and 20, and ABC's 'World News Tonight' was third at 9.2 and 19.0.
The Top 10 programs for the week ending May 16, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. Miss USA Beauty Pageant (CBS).
2. Hart to Hart (ABC).
3. Country Music Awards (NBC).
4. The A Team (NBC).
5. Magnum, P.I. (CBS).
6. NBC Sunday Night Movie: 'Urban Cowboy' (NBC).
7. ABC Monday Night Movie: 'I Want to Live (ABC).
8. Three's Company (ABC).
9. Alice (CBS).
10. The Love Boat (ABC).