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CBS Keeps Prime-Time Ratings Crown : Television: The network is led to its second consecutive triumph by the venerable '60 Minutes.'

April 21, 1993|RICK DU BROW | TIMES TELEVISION WRITER

Celebrating its 25th season, CBS' "60 Minutes" was the nation's favorite TV series for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in its long run, according to final figures announced Tuesday for the so-called official ratings competition of 1992-93.

Rounding out the Top 10 series for the 30-week season, which began Sept. 21 and ended Sunday, were (in order) "Roseanne," "Home Improvement," "Murphy Brown," "Murder, She Wrote," "Coach," "Monday Night Football," the "CBS Sunday Movie," "Cheers" and "Full House."

CBS, which led the network race throughout the season, won its second consecutive ratings crown for total households. ABC climbed to the runner-up position and led among 18-to-49-year-old viewers preferred by most advertisers.

NBC, despite a strong late-season burst by "Seinfeld" after it was switched to Thursdays, dropped into the cellar, culminating a two-year plunge by the once-powerful network.

The Big Three networks could hardly boast of renewed viewer interest. Their combined share of the TV audience for the season was 60%, down 3% from last year. Even top-rated CBS dropped 4%, although the network said this was because the Olympics had increased tune-in last season. NBC was off by 11%. ABC was the only traditional network that boosted its performance, by 2%.

For the season, CBS averaged a 13.3 rating and 22% of the audience. ABC had 12.4 and 20%. NBC finished with an 11 rating and 18%. Fox TV, which expanded from five to six nights this season, averaged a 7.7 and 12% audience share. (Each rating point equals 931,000 homes).

CBS, which has challenged the heavy advertiser emphasis on viewers 18 to 49, dominated the season by winning 22 of the 30 weeks. It also was the leader on four nights of the week--Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. However, its vaunted Monday lineup became vulnerable as two new sitcoms, "Love & War" and "Hearts Afire," were erratic in the ratings.

ABC was bolstered by the move of "Home Improvement" from Tuesday to Wednesday, where its ratings shot up. The network had half of the Top 10 series, as well as the two top specials of the season, "Michael Jackson Talks . . . to Oprah" and the Academy Awards telecast.

Another major ABC winner was "PrimeTime Live," which jumped from 50th place last year to 23rd this season, as news and reality programs increased in popularity. "20/20" was No. 12, "Rescue 911" was No. 13 and "48 Hours" was No. 26.

No new series made the Top 10, but ABC's "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," which follows "Full House," and "The Jackie Thomas Show," which had "Roseanne" for a lead-in, tied for 16th place. CBS' "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," which helped revive viewership on Saturday nights, could boast that it was the leading new series because it made it on its own and averaged 24% of the audience.

CBS Chairman Laurence Tisch, expressing pleasure at finishing on top again, said: "The one mission we have here at CBS--we must stay No. 1. There is no margin for compromise, statistical aberrations, no excuses."

NBC, which started the season by heavily targeting the 18-to-49 audience but later reversed itself after the strategy failed, finished last among the Big Three in its appeal to younger viewers as well as to the total audience.

"The shows we introduced didn't succeed," said Preston Beckman, NBC head of planning and scheduling. He said such new series as "Here and Now" and "Out All Night" were more targeted to viewers 18-to-24 and were not "broad enough" in their appeal.

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