NEW YORK -- 'Lonesome Dove' stampeded past the competition last week, but the estimated 44 million viewers who watched part one of the CBS miniseries weren't enough to move the network out of third place, it was reported Tuesday.
The story could be different this week, when there will be three more nights of 'Lonesome Dove' to swell the CBS Nielsen ratings. The A.C. Nielsen Co. has already reported the ratings for Monday's second episode -- 23.8 rating and a 34 share, despite strong competition of NBC's night of comedies and the premiere of 'Columbo' on ABC.
Episode 1 of the four-part miniseries was the highest rated movie or miniseries of the season, with a 28.5 rating and a 42 share. The previous title holder was 'The Karen Carpenter Story,' also on CBS, with a 26.4 rating and a 41 share.
The first episode of the season's other big miniseries, 'War and Remembrance' on ABC, racked up a 21.8 rating and had an average 32 million viewers.
'It is performing well above our expectations,' said CBS senior vice president David Poltrack, CBS senior vice president, planning and research.
'We were hoping for a 30 share. To get this far above it is very gratifying. At this point we are looking at a potential of this show being certainly in the top 20 and perhaps in the top 10 of all miniseries of three episodes or more.'
Does this showing for 'Lonesome Dove' give CBS a chance of catching ABC and moving into second place?
'It would be very difficult to catch ABC at this point in time,' Poltrack said.
'Before last week, we would have had to beat ABC by 1.4 rating points a week from now until the end of the season in order to surpass them for second place. When we project the impact of 'Lonesome Dove,' we will probably reduce that to one point a week for the remaining nine weeks.'
Poltrack said CBS had been running five-tenths of a rating point ahead of ABC.
'We will have narrowed the gap significantly, but we wouldn't be able to make up the difference without a significant improvement in our competitive position. But it certainly makes the race more interesting.'
The show everybody thought would give 'Lonesome Dove' a battle for the Sunday movie audience -- 'Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal' on NBC -- was tied for 25th with a 16.2 rating and a 24 share. The Sunday theatrical movie 'Ruthless People' on ABC was in 41st place with a 12.4 rating and an 18 share.
NBC won the week with a 16.0 rating and a 25 share. ABC was second with a 13.9 rating and a 22 share, while CBS was third with a 13.6 rating and a 21 share.
In the season to date, NBC claims it is 20 weeks old and ABC and CBS say it began on Oct. 24.
In the NBC version, NBC leads with a 16.1 rating and a 26 share. ABC is second with a 13.0 rating and a 21 share and CBS comes in last with a 12.3 rating and a 20 share.
In the alternative count, NBC wins with a 15.7 rating and a 25 share, ABC has a 13.0 rating and a 21 share and CBS a 12.5 rating and a 20 share.
ABC took over first place in the evening news, but again it was close to a three-way tie.
ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings had an 11.8 rating and a 21 share. 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather was second with an 11.6 rating and a 20 share, and 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with an 11.5 rating, and a 20 share.
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 Feb. 5, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. Lonesome Dove, part 1 (CBS)
2. The Cosby Show (NBC)
3. Different World (NBC)
4. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
5. Cheers (NBC)
6 Roseanne (ABC)
7. 60 Minutes (CBS)
8. Barbara Walters Special (ABC)
9. Golden Girls (NBC)
10. Who's the Boss?