NEW YORK — In the last week of pre-season play, NBC was No. 1 in prime-time ratings, "NBC Nightly News" was also first and the marathon Emmy Awards telecast got its lowest audience ever. But it was not the week's least-watched show.
The Emmy show on Fox Broadcasting was seen in about 7.8 million homes and ranked 48th on the A.C. Nielsen list of prime-time ratings for last week. Its 8.8 rating compared to 23.1 on NBC last year (about 20.2 million homes) and a 15 in 1980, when the Screen Actors Guild was on strike and boycotted the event.
The Nielsen company was a day late in providing the ratings because of problems in checking clearances for Sunday football, said NBC research chief Bill Reubens, who said that such delays at the beginning of new seasons aren't unusual.
Two new series, both on defending ratings champion NBC, cracked the Top 10 and helped propel NBC to first place. "Mama's Boy," a so-called "designated hitter" that will air monthly until the network can find a spot for it in the weekly schedule, finished fourth in its Saturday debut after "The Golden Girls," and "My Two Dads" placed 10th in its first outing Sunday behind the popular "Family Ties."
NBC, with a rerun of its hit "Cosby Show" leading the pack, coasted to an easy victory with a 15.6 ratings average. Each ratings point represents 886,000 homes.
Despite one of its new series, "Once a Hero," finishing 60th among the week's programs, ABC came out second overall, its 11.8 ratings average one-tenth of a point higher than CBS' averages, Nielsen estimates showed.
Four other network series premiered last week, even though the fall season didn't officially begin until Monday. CBS' "Wiseguys" ranked 20th, followed by NBC's "A Year in the Life" (25th), CBS' "Frank's Place" (27th) and CBS' "The Oldest Rookie" (31st).
NBC's "Miss America" telecast did well, coming in sixth. So did CBS' "60 Minutes," starting its 20th season. It came in seventh with a 20.3 rating.
There were moderately good omens for ABC News' "20/20" in its new time slot. Shifted from Thursdays, a move that caused anger among its staff, "20/20" scored a 13.7 rating in its first Friday outing. That, ABC said, was the highest rating one of its program had gotten in that 10-11 p.m. period since the season premiere of "Starman" last September.
The "NBC Nightly News," which won last week with a 10.5 ratings average, triumphed because of tennis. CBS' Sept. 14 coverage of the U.S. Tennis Open finals ran long and forced the network to drop the first of two nightly "feeds" of the "CBS Evening News" to its affiliated stations. More than half the affiliates take that first feed, so its absence sharply lowered the average weekly rating for the Dan Rather-anchored newscast, a CBS spokesman said.
The final averages showed the "CBS Evening News" and ABC's "World News Tonight" tied last week with a 9.5 rating.