NEW YORK -- NBC was the top network for the 1989-90 television season, it was a split decision between 'The Cosby Show' and 'Roseanne' for No. 1 series, and there was a mysterious dropoff in general television viewing, according to end-of-season figures released Tuesday.
The 30-week prime time season ended Sunday, April 15 with NBC way out in front, posting its fifth consecutive win with a 14.6 rating and a 24 share, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co. ABC was second with a 12.9 rating and a 21 share and CBS was third, with a 12.2 and a 20 share.
In evening news, ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings was the new champ, with a 10.9 rating, with 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather demoted to second with a 10.0 rating. 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw was third with a 9.9 rating.
The question of which show was on top of the list was a matter of whether or not you counted a 'Roseanne' episode broadcast outside of its regular time period. NBC and ABC called the win for ABC's 'Roseanne,' while CBS gave it to NBC's 'The Cosby Show.'
'It's no surprise,' said Bob Niles, NBC vice president, research, in announcing the season-end statistics at a news conference.
The three-network share of homes using television -- HUT levels -- was down from the 1988-89 figure of 67 percent. NBC gave this season's three-network HUTs as 65 percent, while David Poltrack, CBS senior vice president, planning and research, gave the figure as 66 percent.
Poltrack, at his news conference, went on to reveal a decrease, particularly in daytime, of overall homes using television.
He called the decline 'unprecedented and unexplained' and said CBS was pressing Nielsen for more data in an effort to find to what extent the dropoff is real and to what extent a matter of statistical sampling. The day parts hardest hit by the decline were daytime and evening news, and it occurred almost entirely in the second half of the season.
The top new program for the season that aired six or more times was ABC's 'America's Funniest Home Videos,' which had a 20.9 rating and a 32 share.
'Twin Peaks' on ABC won as most-watched made-for-television movie. Top miniseries of two or more parts was ABC's 'Small Sacrifices.' The most-watched theatrical movie was 'Lethal Weapon' on NBC. The Academy Awards on ABC won as top entertainment special.
Poltrack said the most popular form for network prime time programming continued to be sitcoms, which took up 23 percent of the schedules, although sitcom ratings were off 1.2 rating points compared to the previous year. The only form to gain over the previous season was actuality program, which improved 1.9 rating points thanks to 'Videos' and NBC's 'Unsolved Mysteries.'
Outside of prime time, CBS was the daytime winner, with 'The Young And The Restless' topping the chart. In morning programming, ABC's 'Good Morning America' was top-rated, with NBC's 'Today' show falling off after Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley. CBS was third.
In late night, NBC's 'Tonight' remained on top, and on Saturday morning, ABC was the big winner with the top four kidvid shows. The No. 1 show was 'Slimer & Real Ghostbusters II.'
For the final week of the season, ABC tied NBC, both receiving an 11.9 rating and a 20 share. CBS had an 11.0 rating and a 19 share.
'Twin Peaks,' in its premiere show in its time period opposite 'Cheers' and 'Grand' on NBC, came in 13th. 'Cheers' held onto its audience despite the competition, but 'Twin Peaks' won the second half hour against Grand.'
In the evening news ratings, ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings continued in first place with a 9.8 rating and a 20 share. 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather seesawed back into second place with an 8.6 rating and an 18 share, while 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw dropped to third with an 8.3 rating and an 18 share.
Each ratings point represents about 921,000 households and a share is the percentage of TV sets tuned to a particular show.NEWLN:------
The top 10 regular series for the 1989-90 season, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. (virtual tie) Roseanne (ABC)
The Cosby Show (NBC)
3. Cheers (NBC)
4. A Different World (NBC)
5. America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
6. Golden Girls (NBC)
7. 60 Minutes (CBS)
8. Wonder Years (ABC)
9. Empty Nest (NBC)
10. NFL Monday night football (ABC)NEWLN:------
The top 10 programs for the week ending Sunday, April 15, were:
1. Roseanne (ABC)
2. Cheers (NBC)
3. America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
4. The Cosby Show (NBC)
5. Coach (ABC)
6. A Different World (NBC)
7. Cheers special (NBC)
8. Golden Girls (NBC)
9. Empty Nest (NBC)
10. Unsolved Mysteries (NBC)