For the first time in a decade, ABC has remained the No. 1 network for three consecutive weeks.
Aided by Barbara Walters and a heavy dose of comedy, half of television's top 10 shows for the week of Feb. 4-10 belonged to ABC.According to A.C. Nielsen Co. figures, ABC's highest-rated show was Sunday's installment of "America's Funniest Home Videos," which placed third.
In overall network ratings, ABC earned a 12.8 average, followed by NBC with 12.7 and CBS with 12.2.
Each ratings point represents 931,000 homes.
Last week's figures showed improvement for NBC. The usually first place network had finished last the previous three weeks.
As the crucial February sweeps period hit its halfway point, the three broadcast networks were separated by half a ratings point for the season.
The February sweeps period, which runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, is one of four times set aside each year that local stations use to set advertising rates.
Of the many TV and feature films shown last week to attract more viewers, CBS' controversial movie about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz ranked the highest at No. 17. "Lucy and Desi: Before the Laughter," which chronicled the early years of the couple's marriage, was criticized by daughter Lucie Arnaz as inaccurate and one-sided.
The most-watched show on television last week was NBC's durable "Cheers," followed by the long-running CBS news magazine "60 Minutes."
ABC's "America's Funniest People" and "Roseanne" tied for fourth. Candice Bergen's CBS comedy "Murphy Brown" was sixth, followed by "Designing Women" on the same network, at seventh.
Barbara Walters' up-close chats with actress Julia Roberts, actor John Goodman and country singers The Judds tied with ABC's "Family Matters" for the No. 8 spot.
In 10th was NBC's Saturday night comedy hit "The Golden Girls."
In network news ratings, CBS continued to flounder in third place with a 9.9 average, fueling speculation that the network may pair Dan Rather with another broadcaster to boost ratings. NBC and Tom Brokaw were second with a 10 average and ABC and Peter Jennings continued to dominate the nightly news broadcasts with a first-place win of 12.4.
Here are the top 10 shows, their network and rating: 1. "Cheers," NBC, 21.5; 2. "60 Minutes," CBS, 21.1; 3. "America's Funniest Home Videos," ABC, 19.2; 4. "America's Funniest People" and "Roseanne," ABC (tie), 18.8; 6. "Murphy Brown," CBS, 18.6; 7. "Designing Women," CBS, 18.5; 8. "The Barbara Walters Special," and "Family Matters," ABC (tie), 18.3; 10. "The Golden Girls," NBC, 18.