The prospect of war in the Persian Gulf brought more viewers to nightly news broadcasts and NBC posted its highest prime-time win of the season in the latest ratings showdown.

NBC won last week's race with a 14.5 average, its best finish of the 17-week-old season. NBC also won by the largest margin of the season, finishing two ratings points ahead of second-place CBS.CBS earned a 12.4 average in the overall network standings. ABC was third with 12.3, according to figures released by the A.C. Nielsen Co.

As the Jan. 15 deadline loomed for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait or face military attack, greater numbers of viewers tuned in last week to nightly network newscasts.

ABC and Peter Jennings were No. 1 with a 12.5 average, followed by a tie between NBC and CBS with 11.5 each. Those ratings reflect an increase from the previous week of nearly 1 million viewers per network. A ratings point represents 931,000 homes.

Here is a list of the top 10 shows, their network and rating: 1. "Cheers," NBC, 23.4; 2. "60 Minutes," CBS, 20.6; 3. "Murphy Brown," CBS, 20; 4. "Designing Women," CBS, 19.9; 5. "A Different World," NBC, 19.4; 6. "The Golden Girls," NBC, 19.3; 7. "America's Funniest Home Videos," ABC, 19.1; 8. "Roseanne," ABC, 18.8; 9. (tie) "Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer," NBC, "Family Matters," ABC, "Full House," ABC, 18.1.