NEW YORK — NBC snapped back after two straight losing weeks to post its largest prime-time ratings win in two months, while ABC's grand miniseries about the occult, "Out on a Limb," proved a flop, figures showed Tuesday.
For the previous two weeks CBS had led the A.C. Nielsen Co. ratings--the first time this season a network other than NBC has won a week.
But NBC, paced by its Thursday night situation comedies and a movie about a Mafia princess, bounced back in a big way. CBS, however, is expected to win next week's ratings because it has the Super Bowl broadcast, which is expected to draw 130 million viewers.
The first part of ABC's five-hour mini "Out on a Limb," about Shirley MacLaine's quest for the meaning of life, was a flop in the ratings. Both NBC's "Blood Vows" about a Mafia princess and CBS' romantic comedy "Warm Hearts, Cold Feet" beat it out in the ratings.
Sunday night's first part of "Out on a Limb" ranked No. 48, near the bottom of the ratings, while "Blood Vows" was the second highest-rated TV movie of the season behind NBC's "Stranded."
The debut of "Ohara," a new ABC series, finished No. 59.
Two of NBC's Thursday night sitcoms, "Family Ties" and "Cheers," posted their highest ratings ever.
For the week ending Jan. 18, NBC won with a huge 19.1 rating and 29 share, CBS had a 15.9 rating and 24 share and ABC had a dismal 13.9 rating and 21 share, according to Nielsen. The win was the largest margin for NBC over any network since Nov. 3, 1986.
In news, "NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw won with a 13.2 rating and 22 share, "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather was next with a 13.0 rating and 22 share and "ABC World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings had a 10.8 rating and 18 share.
NBC still leads the season-to-date ratings with a 17.9 rating and 29 share. CBS has a 16.0 rating and 25 share and ABC has a 14.1 rating and 22 share.
Each ratings point represents about 874,000 households and a share is the percentage of operating sets tuned to a particular show.