Audience Rankings (1985-1993)-- Interpreting Data
Data for each program compiled from weekly rankings, audience share and homes using television give some useful insights into the growth of magazine programming. The weekly rankings data are presented in Tables 1 through 10 in the Appendix at the end of this chapter.
During 1985 programs that were tracked were "60 Minutes," "20/20" and "ABC News Closeup." The latter was not a true magazine show, but it was used to compare the rankings with those of traditional documentary programming.
There was one preemption for "20/20" (a problem in interpreting the Nielsen data, for example, among others, is the fact that the networks sometimes test out new programs with a gingerly caution, making gaps in quarterly measurements). However, "60 Minutes" led in rankings all through the four quarters of 1985 with the exception of a few times late in the second quarter. Events which occurred during this year included the taking of hostages in Lebanon, a TWA hostage-taking episode, the continuing Iran-Iraq War and the early beginnings of glasnost in the post-Brezhnev Soviet Union.
Other programs measured during this year included "West 57th" on CBS, then fairly new; a "Barbara Walters Special" and an ABC News special on the hostages. An early version of "48 Hours" (a new approach to programming referred to then by some as "reality programming") was examined.