NEW YORK -- NBC was the top-rated prime time network for the third consecutive season, with ABC a distant second and CBS in the cellar for the first time in ratings history, it was reported Tuesday.
For the 30-week season that ended Sunday, April 17, NBC had a 16.0 rating and a 26 share, compared to ABC with a 13.7 rating and a 22 share. CBS had a 13.5 rating and a 22 share, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co.
That gave NBC a 17 percent margin of victory, the largest for any network since the 1963-64 season.
NBC's dominance also showed in the week-by-week statistics -- NBC won 26 weeks, including one tie, came in second four weeks and never came in last for the week. The tie was with CBS on the week CBS carried the NCAA basketball finals. The four weeks that ABC won were the week of the World Series, the week of the Super Bowl and two weeks of the Winter Olympics.
For the last week of the season, the week ending April 17, NBC won with a 13.9 rating and a 24 share. ABC came in second, with an assist from the Academy Awards, with a 13.5 rating and a 23 share, and CBS had an 11.8 rating and a 20 share.
Figuring by nights of the week, NBC came in first on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and second on the other nights. On no night was NBC in third.
CBS took Friday and Sunday nights and ABC won Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
In regular programming, eliminating specials but including movies if they were on a regularly scheduled movie night, NBC beat its closest competition by 19 percent. NBC had a 16.2 rating and a 26 share, while CBS came in second with a 13.6 rating and a 22 share, and ABC had a 12.9 rating and a 21 share.
NBC also had four of the five top new shows, of which 43 were introduced this past season. The top five newcomers were 'A Different World' (NBC), 'The Wonder Years' (ABC), 'In The Heat of the Night,' 'My Two Dads' and 'Aaron's Way,' all NBC.
NBC had three of the top made-for-television movies, and CBS had two. In order of ranking, they were 'The Ann Jillian Story' (NBC), 'Eight Is Enough Reunion' (NBC), 'Once Upon A Texas Train' (CBS), 'Long Journey Home' (CBS) and 'Strange Voices' (NBC).
The top miniseries were 'Elvis and Me' (ABC), 'Billionaire Boy's Club' (NBC), 'Echoes of Darkness' (CBS), 'Murder of Mary Phagan' (NBC) and 'Poor Little Rich Girl' (NBC). Two-part miniseries performed well for the networks; multi-part dramas did not.
The bright spot for CBS was the evening news. The 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather won for the season with an 11.6 rating and a 21 share. ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings came in second with a 10.8 rating and a 20 share, while 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with a 10.3 rating and a 19 share.
For the week ending April 17, 'CBS Evening News' had a 10.1 rating and a 21 share, while ABC's 'World News Tonight' was second with a 9.9 rating and a 20 share, and 'NBC Nightly News' was third with an 8.7 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 season: NBC.
Loser of the season: CBS.
The top 10 prime time shows for the 1987-88 season, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. A Different World (NBC)
3. Cheers (NBC)
4. Golden Girls (NBC)
5. Growing Pains (ABC)
6. Who's the Boss? (ABC)
7. Night Court (NBC)
8. 60 Minutes (CBS)
9. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
10. The Wonder Years (ABC)
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending April 10 were:
1. Academy Awards (ABC)
2. (tie) The Cosby Show (NBC)
Different World (NBC)
4. Cheers (NBC)
5. Barbara Walters special (ABC)
6. Who's the Boss? (ABC)
7. Golden Girls (NBC)
8. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
9. (tie) L.A.