NEW YORK -- NBC maintained its lead in the prime time ratings race last week, while CBS came in second. ABC was the most-watched network on three nights and still came in a poor third overall.
The prime time ratings for the week ending Dec. 22, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., gave NBC a 16.5 rating and a 27 percent share of the audience. CBS had a 16.3 rating and a 26 share, while ABC had a 14.8 rating and a 24 share.
For the season to date, NBC had a 17.7 rating and a 28 share, CBS was second with a 16.9 rating and a 26 share, and ABC was third with a 15.7 rating and a 24 share.
In figuring the ratings on a night-by-night basis, ABC won Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, NBC took Thursday and Saturday and CBS won Sunday and Friday.
ABC owed its winning nights to football on Monday, a light lineup on Tuesday of 'Who's the Boss?', 'Growing Pains' and 'Moonlighting;' and 'Dynasty' on Wednesday. But that does not make up for the very heavy viewing of series such as 'The Cosby Show' and 'Family Ties' on NBC and 'Dallas' and '60 Minutes' on CBS.
NBC had four of the top 10 shows -- and it would have been five if 'Night Court' had not been pushed into 11th place by the overrun of the CBS Sunday football games. CBS also had four shows in the top 10 and ABC had two, including a 9th-place tie.
The new Mary Tyler Moore show, 'Mary,' ranked 43rd and was second in its time period. That is a lot better than CBS had been doing previously on Wednesday. Last week was CBS's best Wednesday night of the season -- and it still came in third.
Each network had a winning movie -- 'A Letter to Three Wives' (NBC) ranked 16th, followed by 'The Toy' (ABC) in 18th and George C. Scott as Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' (CBS) in 21st. This is the second year for Scott's Scrooge, which no doubt will be an annual Yule event.
'CBS Evening News with Dan Rather' remained the No. 1 evening news show for the week, with a 13.6 rating and a 24 share. 'NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw' was second with 11.9 and a 21 share. ABC's 'World News Tonight' was third with an 11.4 rating and a 20 share.
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending Dec. 22, according to thu A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Family Ties (NBC)
3. 60 Minutes (CBS)
4. Cheers (NBC)
5. (tie) Dallas (CBS)
Highway to Heaven (NBC)
7. Monday night football, New England vs Miami (ABC)
8. Knots Landing CBS)
9. (tie) Who's the Boss?