NEW YORK -- CBS took the old song seriously and started the New Year right with its New Year's Day prime time schedule occupying the four top spots on the weekly Nielsen ratings list, it was reported Wednesday.
It wasn't enough to knock NBC out of first place -- it was barely enough to edge ABC out of second, for only the second time this season. That's because CBS not only dominated the top of the list but the bottom as well.
The CBS winners included 'The Karen Carpenter Story,' the network's Sunday movie, solidly in first place -- the highest rated movie of the 1988-'89 season which CBS Research estimated was watched by an average of 40 million people over its two hours.
Second place went to 'Murder, She Wrote,' turning in its best performance since Jan. 3, 1988. '60 Minutes' was third and the NFL playoff postgame show slipped into prime time to take fourth place.
More good news for CBS was the Monday story -- the network took the night for the first time this season, thanks to the good showing of its movie, 'Quiet Victory: The Charles Wedemeyer Story,' tied for 15th.
The CBS weakness beccomes clear in two ways. First, after Angela Lansbury and '60 Minutes,' the first CBS series on the list is 'Knots Landing,' in a tie for 21st. Series are the bread-and-butter of network programming.
For more proof, just look down to the bottom of the list where six of the last seven shows wore the CBS logo. Of those, all are new-this-season series that already have been cancelled, except 'West 57th' in 66th place -- the lowest rated show on the three networks.
NBC won the week with a 13.6 rating and a 23 share. CBS was second with a 12.3 rating and 21 share, squeaking past ABC which had a 12.2 rating and 21 share.
As for the television season to date, NBC claims it is 15 weeks old and ABC and CBS say it began on Oct. 24.
In the NBC version, NBC leads with a 15.8 rating and a 26 share. ABC is second with a 13.0 rating and a 21 share and CBS comes in last with a 12.0 rating and a 20 share.
In the alternative count, NBC wins with a 15.1 rating and a 25 share, ABC has a 13.1 rating and a 22 share and CBS a 12.1 rating and a 20 share.
NBC wins on either scorecard.
In news, CBS held onto first place. 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather had a 12.1 rating and a 22 share, besting ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings, which had an 11.4 rating and a 21 share. 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw had an 11.2 rating and a 21 share.
If CBS started the New Year right in prime time, ABC ended the old one on a happy note in news. 'World News Tonight' was the only evening news show to improve its rating and share performance for calendar year 1988 over the previous year. Both CBS and NBC declined.
Each ratings point represents about 904,000 households and a share is the percentage of TV sets tuned to a particular show.
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending Jan. 1, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. The Karen Carpenter Story, CBS Sunday movie
2. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
3. 60 Minutes (CBS)
4. NFL Playoff Postgame (CBS)
5. Roseanne (ABC)
6. The Cosby Show (NBC)
7. Cheers (NBC)
8. Who's the Boss? (ABC)
9. Different World (NBC)
7. L.A. Law (NBC)