NEW YORK -- CBS's 'Sarah, Plain and Tall' was the most-watched show of the week, but that didn't stop ABC from winning the ratings race for the second week in a row, with NBC last for the third consecutive week, it was reported Tuesday.
For anybody keeping score, the last time ABC won two weeks in a row was during the Winter Olympics in February 1988. The last time the network won as many weeks during a season as the five it has tucked away during the 1990-91 season was back in 1983-84, when the network took seven weeks and tied for two more.
And this time they did it without their most popular entertainment show, 'Roseanne,' which was preempted by the State of the Union address.
Also for the record books, the last time NBC placed third for three weeks in a row was back in January 1985.
Among the winning shows for ABC was the American Music Awards, which ranked third in the ratins. Awards are not a sure thing, however, because the CBS Movie Awards tied for 56th.
Other good news for ABC was 'Davis Rules,' which tied for 15th when it was previewed after the Super Bowl. This week, in its regular Tuesday time slot, the show came in 18th, a higher rating than its established lead-in, 'Who's The Boss?' which ranked 20th.
The Sunday movie rivalry was no contest. The CBS offering -- Glenn Close in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of 'Sarah, Plain and Tall' -- was the No. 1 show of the week. NBC's 'In Broad Daylight' tied for 29th, while ABC's part one of 'Son of the Morning Star,' the two-part miniseries about George Armstrong Custer, came in 42nd.
NBC, which is struggling to remain No. 1 for the season instead of running away with the ratings as in recent years, still faces disaster in its pre-movie Sunday schedule. It's latest effort, 'Sunday Best,' ranked 81st, which certainly did not provide a lead-in for 'Real Life with Jane Pauley,' which tied for 85th. That made 'Expose' look good in a tie for 71st.
In nights of the week, NBC took Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, ABC took Monday -- thanks to the American Music Awards -- and continued its Friday dominance, while CBS and 'Sarah' conquered Sunday. Tuesday's ratings were skewed by sustaining programs, including but not confined to, the 'State of the Union' address. Technically, prime time went to CBS.
The ratings for the week saw ABC win with a 12.7 rating, while CBS came in second with a 12.4 rating and NBC had a 12.1 rating. All three had a 20 share.
The season-to-date race remains the tightest in years, with only .5 of a ratings point separating the three networks. NBC leads with a 12.8 rating and a 21 share, followed closely by ABC with a 12.6 rating and a 21 share. CBS was right behind with a 12.3 rating and a 20 share.
ABC continued to dominate the evening news ratings -- but evening news also was good news for NBC, which came in second for the fourth week in a row. ABC's 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings had a 12.6 rating and a 22 share, trailed by 'NBC Nightly News' with Tom Brokaw earning a 10.6 rating and a 19 share. 'CBS Evening News' with Dan Rather had a 9.9 rating and a 17 share.
Each ratings point represents about 921,000 households. A share is the percentage of TV sets in use that are tuned to a particular show or network.NEWLN: ------
The top 10 programs for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 3, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. Sarah, Plain and Tall, CBS Sunday movie
2. Cheers (NBC)
3. American Music Awards (ABC)
4. 60 Minutes (CBS)
5. Different World (NBC)
6. Golden Girls (NBC)
7. America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC)
8. Empty Nest (NBC)
9. Family Matters (ABC)
10. Full House (ABC)