NEW YORK -- Americans proved they were good sports last week as millions of them watched the Winter Olympics -- despite a dearth of U.S. medal-winners -- and put ABC in first place in the ratings race, it was reported Tuesday.
Saturday's telecast of the winter games was the most-watched winter Olympics in television history, averaging 43 million viewers. It was the No. 1 ranked program for the week. The size of the audience is even more significant because Saturday traditionally is the least-watched television night.
The Olympics made ABC the most-watched network on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, and put it in a tie with CBS for Friday night. CBS took Sunday.
The 16 prime time telecasts of the Calgary games averaged a 19.3 rating and a 30 share, a five percent increase over four years ago when the 1984 games at Sarajevo averaged an 18.4 rating and a 28 share.
The games not only gave ABC the win for the week, but also put the network comfortably ahead of second place NBC for the February sweeps period, and widened its lead over CBS for second place in the season to date.
For the week ending Feb. 28, ABC led with a 20.5 rating and a 31 share. NBC was second with a 15.6 rating and a 24 share and CBS last with a 13.5 rating and a 21 share.
In the sweeps to date, ABC leads with a 17.4 rating and a 27 share. NBC is second with a 16 rating and a 25 share and CBS is third with a 13.7 and a 21 share.
For the big one, the 1987-88 season, after 23 weeks NBC is comfortably ahead with a 16.3 rating and a 26 share. ABC has a 14.1 rating and a 23 share, while CBS has a 13.6 rating and a 22 share.
One victim of the Olympics was 'The Wizard of Oz,' which tied for 24th and had a rating of 15.3, the lowest rating the movie classic has had since it was first telecast in 1956.
NBC's new series, 'Sonny Spoon,' may have been another casualty, placing 47th in a list of 54 programs.
The opening episode of the CBS two-part miniseries, 'Blue Grass,' performed respectably in 15th place, finishing just ahead of NBC's latest Perry Mason caper in 16th.
The last three episodes of NBC's expensive four-parter, 'Noble House,' did not fare as well, finishing in 22nd, 28th and 20th place.
In news ratings for the week, 'ABC World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings won with an 11.7 rating and a 21 share. 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather was second with an 11.2 rating and 20 share. 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with 9.9 rating and an 18 share.
Each ratings point represents about 887,000 households and a share is the percentage of TV sets tuned to a particular show.
Winner of the week: Winter Olympics.
Loser of the week: Dorothy and Toto.
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending Feb. 28, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. Winter Olympics Saturday (ABC)
2. The Cosby Show (NBC)
3. Winter Olympics Tuesday (ABC)
4. (tie) Winter Olympics Monday (ABC)
A Different World (NBC)
6. 60 Minutes (CBS)
7. Cheers (NBC)
8. Winter Olympics Thursday (ABC)
9. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)