The finale of “MASH” on CBS Monday night seems very likely to take its place as the mostwatched television program in history, according to overnight Nielsen ratings figures released yesterday.
Advertisers, who spent up to $450,000 per 30-second commercial spot, apparently got their money’s worth with the two-and one-half-hour special “MASH” episode which drew ratings ranging from a low of 51.2 in Philadelphia to a high of 63.7 in San Francisco between 8:30 and 11 p.m. Monday. Shares ranged from a Los Angeles low of 67% to a San Francisco high of 82%. The current record holder, the Nov. 21,1980, “Who Shot J R . ? ” episode of “Dallas,” had a national rating of 53.3 and a 76 share, and CBS v.p. of national tv research Arnold Becker said yesterday he expects the national “MASH” numbers — due today — to surpass them.
Compared to the network competition during primetime Monday, which consisted of “The Night The Bridge Fell Down” on NBC and “American Gigolo” on ABC, CBS won so
handily that the only question was the number of multiples “MASH” won by. In San Francisco, the other two networks suffered most, their combined shares totalling less than a seventh of the CBS share.
In Los Angeles, the “MASH” 51.6/67 levelled NBCa 9.5/12 and ABC’s 10.3/13, while in New York, where “MASH” garnered a 56.4/72, NBC had a 7.9/10 and
ABC had a 6.6/8. Chicago viewers gave “MASH” a 00.4/72 as compared to NBC’s 8.8/11 and ABC’s 10.1/13. Philadelphia showed a 01.2/70 for “MASH” and 6.7/9 for NBC 8.4/11 ABC, while Detroit had a 57.5/73 for “MASH” and an 8.1/10 for NBC and a 9.6/12 for ABC. San Francisco was a 63.7/82 for “MASH” and a 4.0 8 for NBC and a 4.7/6 for ABC.
According to Becker, CBS still will not be able to beat ABC In the February sweeps ratings, despite the huge numbers “MASH” piled up. He said his figures show ABC still approximately two ratings points ahead of CBS for the sweeps period.
While CBS was the big winner of the night nationally, KABC managed to take first place in the local market during the early news and access periods with its own “MASH” event. KABC preempted its 6 p.m. news, the ABC network news and “Eye On LA.” to air the original “MASH” film between 6 and 8 p.m.
Nielsen figures show the KABC broadcast won an 18.3/27 average for the two-hour period, besting KTTV’s own foureplaode offnet “MASH “feat which averaged a 17.3/25 between 6:30 and 8:30.
CBS-owned KNXT waa In third place during KABC’s film, airing their regular 6 p.m. news (9.6/15), CBS “Evening News” (7.9/12) and a apeclal “MASH”- oriented “Two On The Town” (13.7/19).
As the KABC film ended, the ABC o&o immediately fell to a third place 15.8/22 for the first half-hour of “That’s Incredible” against the final KTTV “MASH” eplaode (19.8/28) and CBS’ apeclal eplaode of “Alice” (19.0/27). At the conclusion of “Alice,” KNXT’s 15-minute average figure of 20.5/28 jumped remarkably to a 47.4/61 for the first 15 minutes of the network “MASH” finale. Simultaneously, the KABC figures fell more than three rating and six share points and KTTV figures fell a stunning16.9 rating and 24 share points.