NEW YORK -- NBC returned to the lead in the weekly ratings race last week, as ABC was down in the post-Olympic dumps and CBS battled to avoid a first-ever cellar finish for the season, it was reported Tuesday.
CBS statisticians figure the network must average a 1.5 ratings lead over ABC for the last seven weeks of the television season to overcome ABC's high Olympic scores and come in second for 1987-88.
For the week ending March 6, NBC led with a 16.3 rating and a 26 share. CBS was second with a 15.0 rating and a 24 share and ABC last with a 12.8 rating and a 21 share. So far, so good for CBS.
For the 1987-88 season, after 24 weeks NBC is comfortably ahead with a 16.3 rating and a 27 share. ABC has a 14.1 rating and a 23 share, while CBS has a 13.6 rating and a 22 share.
NBC came up all smiles with the two series it introduced -- 'Day By Day' and 'In The Heat of the Night.'
'Day By Day' was on three times during the week. In its Monday airing after 10th place 'Alf,' it was in 14th place with an 18.6 rating and a 28 share. In its second airing, on Thursday following the No. 1 'The Cosby Show,' it was in second place with a 28.1 and a 43 share.
In its third showing, in its regular spot in the Sunday lineup following 17th place 'Family Ties,' it was in 20th place with a 17.3 rating and a 26 share. NBC spokesman Matt Messina said that was slightly better than the ratings won by the previous tenant of that time slot, 'My Two Dads.'
NBC's second new series came on as a Sunday movie -- 'In The Heat Of The Night' starring Carroll O'Connor and Howard Rollins. It finished in 13th place, swamping the CBS movie, 'Side By Side,' starring Milton Berle, Danny Thomas and Sid Caesar, which was in 44th place on a list of 67 shows.
ABC's new series, 'Supercarrier,' up against 'Murder, She Wrote' and the first half hour of 'Side By Side,' ranked a very respectable 29th for the week.
The Grammys did well for CBS, coming in eighth for the week, while the Miss USA Beauty Pageant ranked 25th. The 'Superman 50th Anniversary Show' did not leap tall ratings in a single bound -- it tied for 54th place.
In news ratings for the week, 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather was back in first place with an 11.3 rating and a 21 share. 'ABC World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings was a close second with an 11.2 rating and 20 share. 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with 9.6 rating and an 17 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: NBC again.
Loser of the week: ABC again.
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending March 6, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Day By Day-Thursday (NBC)
3. Cheers (NBC)
4. Night Court (NBC)
5. Growing Pains (ABC)
6. Who's the Boss? (ABC)
7. Golden Girls (NBC)
8. Grammy Awards (CBS)
9. 60 Minutes (CBS)