NEW YORK -- NBC won the prime time ratings race for the fourth consecutive season and by the second largest margin ever, according to figures released Tuesday.
ABC came in second and CBS was a close third.
The ratings figures for the 1988-89 network television season confirmed the expected NBC win, as well as the fact that 'The Cosby Show' (NBC) was the top-rated program for the fourth straight season - only the third network show to make three in a row. The other two were 'Gunsmoke' and 'All In The Family,' both CBS. Archie Bunker did it five times straight.
ABC's 'Roseanne,' which came in second in over-all ratings, was the top-rated new show of the season.
NBC won all 30 weeks of the television season, which began on Sept. 19 as measured by that network. CBS and ABC maintain that the season began Oct. 24, when new shows delayed by the 22-week strike by the Writers Guild began to air. Either way, NBC came in first every week, with CBS tying once.
NBC has won 104 weeks of the 120 weeks comprising the last four seasons and currently is on a 43-week winning streak, hoping to catch up to the record 46-week streak enjoyed by CBS in 1962-63.
'We dominated in every which way you can imagine,' said NBC vice president Gerry Jaffe, in presenting the season figures at a news conference.
The winner for the season was never in doubt, with NBC winning by 24 percent over second place ABC, according to its definition of the season. The record margin of win was set by CBS, which won the 1956-57 season by 26 percent over NBC.
In 1988-89, the race for the No. 2 spot was close.
In the 30-week season as defined by NBC, NBC won with a 16.0 rating and a 26 share. ABC had a 12.9 rating, compared to a 12.6 for CBS. Both had a 21 share.
The figures for the 25-week season used by ABC and CBS give NBC a 15.7 rating and a 26 share. ABC gets a 12.7 rating and CBS comes in two-tenths of a ratings point behind with a 12.7.
CBS research held that both had a 21 share; ABC gave itself a 21 and CBS a 20 share. The difference arises, apparently, from network nitpicking -- ABC had a 21.0 share and CBS a 20.8 share. CBS rounded the figure to 21; ABC rounded it to 20.
David Poltrack, CBS senior vice president, in making his network's ratings presentation, pointed out that CBS had made a big comeback since the first week of 1989 and would be in second place if the season had begun then.
The network was in second place for the week ending April 16. NBC won with a 14.5 rating and a 24 share. CBS had a 12.7 rating and a 21 share. ABC was third with a 12.1 rating and a 20 share, despite the fact that its Sunday movie, 'Deadly Silence,' was in 11th place, compared to a tie for 20th for CBS's 'Love & Betrayal.' The first episode of NBC's three-part 'Around The World In 80 Days' tied for 23rd.
By anybody's measure 'Lonesome Dove' (CBS) was the top-rated miniseries of the season. The top three made-for-TV movies were 'The Karen Carpenter Story' (CBS), 'A Very Brady Christmas' (CBS) and 'Those She Left Behind' (NBC).
Fox Broadcasting showed a 49 percent increase over the previous year, going from a 3.7 rating and a 6 share to a 5.5 rating and a 9 share. Two of its programs have amassed audiences of real network size - 'Married...With Children' and 'America's Most Wanted.'
In the tight evening news race, 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather won for the season with an 11.1 rating; ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings was second with a 10.9 and 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with a 10.4. All three had a 20 share.
For the week just ended, however, ABC took the lead with a 10.2 rating and a 21 share. CBS had a 10.0 rating and a 21 share, while NBC was third with a 9.3 rating and a 19 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 programs for the 1988-89 season, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., and excluding shows with fewer than six airings, were:
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Roseanne (ABC)
3. Different World (NBC)
4. Cheers (NBC)
5. 60 Minutes (CBS)
6. Golden Girls (NBC)
7. Who's The Boss? (ABC)
8. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
9. Empty Nest (NBC)
10. Dear John (NBC)
If short flight series of fewer than six broadcasts were to be included, 'Anything But Love' (ABC) would unseat 'Dear John' in 10th place.
The top 10 programs for the week ending April 16:
1. Roseanne (ABC)
2. The Cosby Show (NBC)
3. Cheers (NBC)
4. (tie) Different World (NBC)
Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
6. (tie) Golden Girls (NBC)
Wonder Years (ABC)
8. Who's The Boss? (ABC)
9. 60 Minutes (CBS)