Friday, June 27, 2008


And by B.C. I mean "before clickers".

Back in the day, there was some real competition for viewers between the big 3 networks.

For example, check out this TV prime time lineup from 1970 (from the Super Seventies website- just click to enlarge):

Check out Sunday. You could watch for 2.5 straight quality hours, going from 'Wild Kingdom' to 'Hogan's Heroes' to 'Ed Sullivan' to 'Bonanza'.

Monday's even better. Not only do you have 'MNF', but you could catch 'Gunsmoke', 'Here's Lucy', 'Doris Day' and 'Carol Burnett'. Or 'Laugh In' if none of that floats your boat.

Just pick a night. It's like an All-Star lineup. One could even argue a Hall of Fame lineup. There's something to watch every night of the week.

And the 1960s are even better.

Nowadays, except for sports, I'm lucky to find something once a week I really don't want to miss.

Note that this is all pretty much before cable TV's boom.

I'm not going to completely knock cable. Cable certainly has had it's TV advantages. Particularly when it comes to sports coverage. I think it's not a stretch to suggest the Olympics are no longer as big a deal now as opposed to then because there is so much sports saturation.

But the thing that makes this TV lineup better than today's is simple- today there is just too much TV. Way back then, only the most talented actors, entertainers, writers and producers got a chance to work at this level. If you weren't that good, you just didn't make it.

Now, with 500 channels, no talent hacks can put something on everyday. It's diluted the quality down to nothing.

Not unlike how the quality of pitching goes down when baseball expansion occurs. With more roster spots to fill, those who never would have gotten to the big leagues before become major leaguers due to this competitive advantage.

Anyway, I find such useless information fascinating. There's a lot more old TV schedules out there to peruse if you're interested. Just Google the TV year and have at it.


  1. It seems to be the norm anymore that when you get too much of anything the quality goes down. I think the early-mid sixties had the best quality of programming every week. On CBS every you had The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show, The Lucy Show, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction,Gunsmoke, Gilligan's Island, The Ed Sullivan Show, I Dream of Jeannie, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Mister Ed, Rawhide, and I think Get Smart was on CBS too. NBC and ABC had some good shows too. NBC's best show was easily Bonanza and I think ABC's best show was Bewitched although I'm more of a fan of The Big Valley.

    Obviously CBS was the top network (and if memory serves me correctly they stayed that way until ABC took over when Happy Days became a hit). I think in 1963 seventeen of the top twenty shows were on CBS. I don't remember that for sure I'd have to check that book you have downstairs.

  2. Angus!

    Your knowledge of TV ratings history is spectacular. CBC was top dog until the mid-1970s when ABC had a brief time at the top as you noted. NBC didn't become #1 until the '80s with 'Can't Miss Thursdays', Cosby and Cheers being the anchors of that night.

  3. well since I'm usually slow on doing things on blogger I'm just getting around to commenting back.

    I thought ABC was the top dog until the 90's when NBC had Frasier and Seinfeld. If you look at Frasier's ratings for seasons 2-5 you'll find that it isn't in the top ten and I often wondered how such a great show couldn't be there. Then when I got that Frasier book it explained that before the 2nd season NBC moved Frasier to a different time slot and ABC countered it with the #1 tv show at the time (Home Improvement). The result was both shows ratings falling down somewhat and I believe thats when Seinfeld became the #1 show but I don't remember for sure. I do remember the book saying thats when NBC took over as the #1 network. But whatever, just some useless info to chew on.