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Monday, March 18, 2024

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings Part Four - What REALLY Was, and Wasn't--and What Might Have Been

And now the thrilling conclusion of the F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings series.  For you latecomers to the party, first, a chance to catch up: 

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART ONE at this link

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART TWO at this link

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART THREE at this link

I'm providing more context to the findings on the 1966-67 television season (see Part Two above for more), the show's second and unfortunately last.  We can dig into (and debunk) myths that had a half century to gain traction thanks to the newfound availability of Nielsen pocketbooks courtesy of Ratings Ryan.  Long-held perception and ratings reality have been proven to be two very different things throughout this exercise.  Thanks for checking out my ramblings over your morning coffee--I sincerely hope I've made it worth your while.  

F TROOP improved ABC's fortunes in its time slot again in 1966-67.

After BATMAN and GIDGET replaced SHINDIG! and DONNA REED for the second half of 1965-66 to kick off ABC's Thursday lineup, GIDGET averaged a rating of 18.6 for 14 airings (260.2 total) and a 29.2 share following BATMAN from January 12 to April 14, 1966.  Decent numbers on the surface, but losing over one-third of BATMAN's audience (27.0 rating/43 share).   When F TROOP moved into the time slot that fall, it improved on both GIDGET numbers during the season's first half (18.8/30.7)  despite a lead-in from a weaker BATMAN which fell to 19.3/33 during that September-December 1966 span (losing 28 percent of its rating and 23 percent of its share from its first season) and starting the season with one of the weakest lead-outs ever (more below).

GIDGET averaged 10.0 million households in the Spring of 1966, F TROOP bumped that up to 10.6 million households the following season.  This despite BATMAN dipping from 14.5 million households to 10.7 million in front of it.  F TROOP increased GIDGET's rating by 3 percent, share by 7 percent, and was seen in 6 percent more households. 

F TROOP did lose some of the audience from its lead-in--temporarily:

Over the course of the entire season, F TROOP lost 156,000 households on average from BATMAN:

F TROOP 10.615 million HH 19.24

BATMAN 10.771 million HH 19.53

For the full season, BATMAN rated 19.5, F TROOP 19.2: losing 1.5 percent of BATMAN's rating.  BATMAN had the higher rating of the two every week but two during the season's first half; the two shows tied once at 18.5 and F TROOP had a higher rating on 11/17/66.  Over the entire period from September 1966 through the end of December, ABC went from losing 32 percent of BATMAN's audience to less than 3 percent at 8 P.M. with F TROOP taking over for GIDGET.  Still, a loss is a loss.

Then, starting in January 1967, ABC gained households at 8 PM E.T.

In the second half of the season F TROOP was actually stronger than its lead-in.  Beginning 1/5/67, F TROOP had a higher rating than BATMAN nine out of the 15 weeks, with the two shows tying once.   BATMAN improved to 20.2 (302.8 over the 15 weeks) over the second half, F TROOP to 20.3 as noted in Part Two; if we remove reruns, F TROOP still holds a 7-5-1 edge in the 13 weeks in which both aired original episodes.  For the season, BATMAN held a 18-10-2 edge against its lead-in, but this was due solely to the first half.  During the season's second half, F TROOP (11.2 million households) actually averaged 60,000 more households than BATMAN (11.14 million).  Both shows improved from the first half of 1966-67, but F TROOP improved more. 

F TROOP's lead-outs might have had an affect on it at first.  

Moving to a new night and time was what I previously cited as a reason for F TROOP's somewhat slow start in Season 2, but another factor might have been one of television's all-time greatest disasters: THE TAMMY GRIMES SHOW (gone by October!) at 8:30 P.M.  With TAMMY GRIMES following it, F TROOP averaged 17.7 for the 3 weeks in September.  This improved to a 18.8 once DATING GAME was installed for GRIMES.  F TROOP surged to a 20.3 rating from January to April once BEWITCHED was moved up to 8:30 PM Eastern.  So BEWITCHED was very good for F TROOP, as you'd expect.  But the reverse is also true.

F TROOP and BEWITCHED were actually good for each other.

ABC made Thursday ladies' night beginning in 1967-68, moving Sally Field back to the 8 PM Thursday slot and adding Yvonne Craig to the cast of BATMAN as Batgirl.  But teaming F TROOP and BEWITCHED meant that ABC's two highest rated sitcoms in the Nielsens for both 1965-66 and 1966-67 were airing back to back on Thursdays, and F TROOP's second half increase of 1.5 ratings points was certainly helped by this schedule change.  Now, get a load of what having F TROOP as a lead-in did for BEWITCHED:

348.6 total in 16 weeks with TAMMY GRIMES/DATING GAME preceding it (21.8). 

346.4 total in 14 weeks with F TROOP as a lead-in (24.7)

ABC gave an early green light to THE FLYING NUN for the Thursday 8 PM slot in the Winter of 1967, so F TROOP would have been moved to another night had it returned.  Going by the ratings (not the only consideration for networks, obviously), that decision was debatable.  THE FLYING NUN briefly improved on F TROOP's showing (see more on that below) but BEWITCHED dropped from a 24.7 rating over the second half of 1966-67 with F TROOP as a lead-in to a 23.5 rating with NUN preceding it in 1967-68.  

THE FLYING NUN did--again, temporarily--improve upon F TROOP's showing on Thursdays.

THE FLYING NUN appeared to be a hit and an improvement, after taking over for F TROOP.  The sneak preview on September 7 averaged a 23.0 rating, which was higher than all but two F TROOP episodes the prior season.  In addition, NUN lasted three seasons after taking over at 8 P.M. Thursdays and finished 1967-68 in 34th place, up 5 spots from F TROOP while DANIEL BOONE slipped from 27th (remember, I came up with 20.5, not 20.8 for 1966-67) to 29th (20.0, though I came up with 19.8--a total of 514 in 26 airings).  So on the surface this decision bore fruit, since BOONE fell 3 percent and NUN gained a little less than 2 percent on the full season F TROOP numbers during 1967-68 as a whole.

Sources elsewhere gave NUN a 19.5 rating, but I came up with 19.7 rounding up.  THE FLYING NUN had a higher high share-wise during the first half, but after Christmas came a lower low than F TROOP had in either half of the previous season (30.7 and 31.8 respectively), finishing below a 30 share for the second half.

First, the season as a whole for each:

1966-67 F TROOP 19.24 rating/31.3 share (39th) 10.61 million HH

1967-68 FLYING NUN 19.66 rating/31.9 share (34th) 11.02 million HH

THE FLYING NUN also had the handicap of a weaker lead-in, as BATMAN utterly collapsed in front of it in 1967-68, totaling 246.1 for the season's first 16 weeks for a 15.4 average rating, losing nearly a quarter of its second half (20.2) audience from the previous season.  

So why do I say the improvement was temporary?  Because THE FLYING NUN was, like F TROOP a season earlier, a tale of two halves.  Only this time, the inverse of F TROOP's showing:

First half of 1967-68: 303.9 rating in 15 shows (20.2) 504.9 total share (33.7).

Second half of 1967-68: 246.8 in 13 shows (19.0) 387.7 total share (29.8).

NUN did have 10 weekly wins over BOONE to F TROOP's 9, but only one of those wins for FLYING NUN came after Dec. 14th.   By contrast, F TROOP won the entire 7:30-8:30 hour for the final month of the previous season. 

Taking each entire season into account, THE FLYING NUN did slightly improve the ratings and cut into BOONE's audience--thanks to the first half.  It is debatable whether ABC was well served in the long run by the switch.  By the 1967-68 season's end, the number of households tuning into NUN (10.75 million) was 450,000 below F TROOP's second half average for 1966-67.  BEWITCHED also performed better with F TROOP in front of it (24.7) than in either half of the following season (23.6 and 23.4 respectively) with NUN as a lead-in.   

While F TROOP had a similar dip to NUN in the second half of its first season (20.9 to 19.9 opposite RED SKELTON) it reversed this in season two, regaining all of its 1965-66 audience by the Spring of 1967.  In its second season, THE FLYING NUN continued declining, sliding to a 16.9 rating (456.9 in 27 shows, 9.8 million households) and well out of the top 50 (51st place KRAFT MUSIC HALL averaged a 18.0, that's as far as any ratings I could locate went) with 9.8 million households per week.  Perception of THE FLYING NUN's success was shaped by its first three months on the air--the next two and a half seasons demonstrated a fall arguably faster and farther than BATMAN's.  With the benefit of long-term hindsight it appears that THE FLYING NUN maintained positive momentum of the prior half-season from F TROOP (20.3 for the latter in early 1967 to 20.2 for the former in Fall 1967, not much difference) for only a few months and then the bloom fell off the rose.  

F TROOP versus its peers--was it really that disappointing in 1966-67?

Peers being the 1965-66 sitcom class that returned for 1966-67.

F TROOP went from 36th (20.4) to 39th (19.2);

HOGAN'S HEROES went from 9th (24.9) to 17th (21.8); 

GET SMART from 12th (24.5) to 22nd (21.0); 

I DREAM OF JEANNIE from 27th (21.8) to 41st (19.0); 

GREEN ACRES 11th (24.6) to 6th (24.6), the only one to move up in the rankings in Season 2, but the rating was identical to the year before.

GREEN ACRES as noted stayed the same, F TROOP's rating dropped 6 percent over the entire season (second half was less than 1 percent below its 1965-66 rating), HOGAN'S HEROES 11 percent, GET SMART 14 percent, JEANNIE 13 percent. In that context, F TROOP seems less disappointing in its second season than perceived, since all of its peers sans one fell further from season one to season two.

What might have been:

Since the 8 P.M. Thursday slot was promised to THE FLYING NUN long before schedules were announced, the most likely landing spot for F TROOP in Fall 1967 would have been in the 7:30 to 8:30 hour on Wednesdays, opposite LOST IN SPACE and THE VIRGINIAN.  It's hard to see F TROOP failing to improve on CUSTER, which was off the air before January 1968 with an anemic 11.7 rating.  As for the competition, well, F TROOP did post a higher rating than LOST IN SPACE in the first and second seasons for each:

1965-66: F TROOP 20.4, LOST IN SPACE 20.3

1966-67: F TROOP 19.2, LOST IN SPACE 18.8

Just sayin'.

With Ben Kalmenson holding the cards at Warner Brothers, and the Seven Arts sale announced in November 1966, it is likely that F TROOP was a goner no matter how high the ratings. For sure, though, ABC was too quick to deem it a disappointment in its new timeslot when THE FLYING NUN was promised the 8 P.M. Thursday slot for the following Fall by January.  (Why, exactly, when even the "disappointing" Fall 1966 F TROOP numbers improved on those for Sally Field's GIDGET the season before?  But I digress.)

F TROOP's second half performance helped give ABC ratings of 20.2, 20.3 and 24.7 for the 7:30 to 9 P.M. period on Thursdays over the season's second half, with all three shows benefitting.  One would think this would have solved the "Thursday problem" from the Fall, right?  We can only wonder what might have happened to it, and to BATMAN, if the fates would have allowed a return of all 3 that Fall unchanged.  Television history is full of what-ifs, and F TROOP suffered from poorer timing that most successful series.  We can all be thankful the fates allowed us the 65 episodes we have--imagine if the Seven Arts sale had gone through a year earlier.  Miracles do happen--HONDO eventually got rediscovered with only 17 episodes--but without critical syndication exposure afforded it by that second season in color, we might still be waiting for F TROOP to get its due.  There'd have been no five years on Nick at Nite, no three years on Me-TV, etc.

The closest comparison to F TROOP ratings-wise among its peers is I DREAM OF JEANNIE, which ranked 27th and 40th during the two seasons in which F TROOP ranked 36th and 39th.  The two shows were two tenths of a percentage point apart at the end of 1966-67, but JEANNIE had support from NBC and Screen Gems, and three more seasons of life in it, returning to the top 30 in its fourth season.  

How many more Emmy nominations would this man have received with two or three more seasons?

Hope you've enjoyed my ruminations on F TROOP and the Nielsens of the mid 1960s.  Now, back to reviewing it and all the other shows you've been enjoying episode guides for here at The Section.  I still reserve the right to return to the ratings in the future, so be warned!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART THREE: Dispelling More Myths

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART ONE at this link

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings PART TWO at this link

So to recap the first two parts of my analysis of the Nielsen Ratings for F TROOP, here's the overall findings for each season:

1965-66: 20.4 rating, 31.3 share, 36th out of 108 shows

1966-67: 19.2 rating, 31.3 share, 39th out of 113 shows

Each season had a higher ranking, rating and share than THAT GIRL ever achieved in five years on ABC (to name one example from the show's peers) so the perception that F TROOP was a lowly rated failure in its network run is dismissed--at ease!  One myth of many I'll be poking holes in as I provide some missing context in parts three and four.  

I know I'm taking a considerable amount of time with this.  Hey, if Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn can take three of the six volumes of the THESE ARE THE VOYAGES book series to defend STAR TREK against decades of dissing its ratings, then surely I can take four blog posts (ok, make it five) to defend F TROOP against similar misconceptions.  

The third post in this series will now take a closer look at the 1965-66 season, which as I mentioned in the previous posts, Ratings Ryan was kind enough to make available here.

Going into 1965-66, ABC had experienced five consecutive years of failure at 9 P.M. Eastern on Tuesday nights.  Beginning with 1960-61, the network had tried westerns (STAGECOACH WEST), police drama (THE NEW BREED), Desilu Productions (THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH), sitcoms (THE TYCOON) and even relocated established hits (HAWAIIAN EYE) to no avail attempting to compete with CBS and NBC.  CBS' RED SKELTON in particular--a Tuesday juggernaut throughout the 1960's with a "kill list" to rival BONANZA's on Sundays at 9.  Even finding success a half-hour earlier at 8:30 Eastern with McHALE'S NAVY beginning in 1963 had not resulted in ABC continuing that success from a strong lead-in.  

F TROOP changed ABC's fortunes for the better in the 9 P.M. timeslot on Tuesday nights in 1965-66, and provided the network with its only season of sustained success there between 1960 and the 1969-70 debut of THE ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK.  I'll just stick with the immediate "before and after" to illustrate:

1964-65  TYCOON 19.5 rating/28.2 share (49th)

1965-66  F TROOP 20.4 rating/31.3 share (36th)

1966-67 PRUITTS OF SOUTHHAMPTON 14.0 rating/24.1 share (77th - first half) THE INVADERS 19.1 rating/28.6 share - 2nd half, 40th season) COMBINED 16.6 rating/26.4 share.

TYCOON starred Walter Brennan, fresh off a six-year run in THE REAL McCOYS, and enjoyed a 22.3 lead-in from McHALE'S NAVY (29th in 1964-65).  TYCOON nonetheless became ABC's fifth 8 PM failure in a row on Tuesdays, losing 13 percent of McHALE'S audience.  The next season, F TROOP was given a weaker NAVY (19.8/30.1 share, 44th place) preceding it, but not only improved on its well established lead-in but also outrated another long-running favorite that immediately followed:

8:30 P.M. McHALE'S NAVY 19.8/30.1 (44th) 10.67M households

9 PM F TROOP 20.4/31.3 (36th) 11.0M households

9:30 PM PEYTON PLACE (II) 19.5/31.1 (46th) 10.5M households

It would appear that F TROOP was actually getting quite a few viewers to switch channels; to further bolster this appearance, SKELTON's season average is shown as 27.6, but its rating during the second half hour at 9-9:30 P.M. for the 27 weeks it went head to head with the TROOP was nearly a point below its overall rating--26.7.  When McHALE'S NAVY and F TROOP were preempted for the only time all season on February 1st, SKELTON soared to a season high 33.3 rating.

F TROOP shoring up the longstanding weak link in the middle of the Tuesday lineup helped ABC to its only night of victory during 1965-66 despite ratings dropoffs from the otherwise intact 1964-65 schedule the rest of the night.  Before BATMAN came along in January, F TROOP was ABC's highest rated new show and still ended the season 7th out of the 39 offerings from the Alphabet network (see part one for more on how even F TROOP's ranking has been misrepresented in the decades since).  Still, you'll rarely hear historians mention that--only that the show never made the top 25 and lasted only two seasons.   

One of the more recent chroniclers to cover the era is Thom Shubilla, author of Primetime 1966-67: The Full Spectrum of Television's First All-Color Season.  Not to disparage; I'm glad his book exists despite a number of inaccuracies (i.e. JULIA did not replace OCCASIONAL WIFE, THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW did).  I can tell, though, that he's no fan of F TROOP.  Shubilla cites the show as "waning" and a supposed non-factor in the demise of competition JERICHO during the season he writes about (more on that next post).  The author also has a number of head-scratching claims about the 1965-66 season.  Shubilla's assertion (page 206) that "F TROOP lost out in the ratings to both RED SKELTON and NBC TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES during 1965-66 (page 206)" is provably false no matter how you examine the numbers.

No one is disputing the first contention, since SKELTON was the # 4 show on all of television during 1965-66.  The statement that NBC's Tuesday movie defeated F TROOP is really dubious since the August 1967 TELEVISION (a source Shubilla cites elsewhere in his book) had NBC TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES at 60th place at season's end (it was 57th at midseason to F TROOP's 27th per the March 1966 issue). 

During the 9 PM - 9:30 PM half hour, NBC's movie averaged 16.2 on the 29 Tuesdays in which it competed with F TROOP.  This was below its average overall rating of 18.1 from 9-11 P.M. E.T. for thirty movies, as NBC gained viewers in later hours (competing with the extremely low rated CBS REPORTS from 10-11 E.T. helped there).  NBC TUESDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES was bested by F TROOP by an average of 4.2 ratings points in the head to head half hour of 9-9:30 P.M., then gained an average of 1.9 the rest of the night against other shows.   F TROOP averaged 11 million households from 9 to 9:30 to the NBC MOVIE's 8.73 million over the season's 30 weeks. 

F TROOP's only losses to the NBC movie were to Home From the Hill on 3/1/66 and to G.I. Blues on both 11/9/65 and 4/12/66.  It appears that Shubilla confused the 1965-66 listing in TELEVISION with the 1966-67 listing, which had the NBC Tuesday Movie in 35th place that season.  But it wasn't opposite F TROOP that year--it was opposite the bomb PRUITTS OF SOUTHAMPTON, and the lack of effective opposition from ABC at 9 P.M. was a contributing factor to NBC's rise of 25 spots in the ratings.  For that matter, SKELTON also benefitted from F TROOP's move, rising from a 27.6 rating to a 28.2 and from 4th place to 2nd behind BONANZA in 1966-67. 

Shubilla further cites F TROOP as the season's 40th most watched show "though the ratings started out high".  I can't blame him for missing that one, as it took some real digging and calculating for me to determine that 36th place was the correct ranking, but even the show's second half rating and share outpointed every other ABC show that was put up against SKELTON during the Sixties.  Including THE INVADERS, a second season entry that followed the Diller debacle in 1967 but managed a renewal with a 28 share (and was subsequently canceled halfway through 1967-68).  

F TROOP sustained those "early high ratings" better than most despite having an immovable object in front of it during its freshman season.  While there were quite a few 1965 premieres ahead of F TROOP, here's some of the new programs ranked behind it: LOST IN SPACE, THE BIG VALLEY, I SPY, THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW and RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.  BIG VALLEY (53rd midseason, 57th on the year end list) had to compete with GREEN ACRES (11th) and DICK VAN DYKE (16th) on CBS, but none of the others were facing unwinnable battles.  And BIG VALLEY at least got to air in color against ACRES (VAN DYKE remained in black and white) whereas F TROOP aired in black and white versus color competition from the other two networks--SKELTON was always in color and most of NBC's movies were as well.  

Speaking of the color/black and white disparity which was in its final season during F TROOP's first: two shows that F TROOP gets compared to concluded their runs during 1965-66 under the same circumstances: CBS' THE MUNSTERS and ABC's THE ADDAMS FAMILY.  Both get more respect than the TROOP in general because both made the top 25 during 1964-65 while F TROOP never did.  All three managed only two seasons on the network (ended up between 64 and 70 total episodes) but enjoyed lasting success in syndication despite the relatively low number of segments available.

During 1965-66, though, all three sitcoms faced the same situation: airing in black and white against dynamic, Nielsen top-10 competition in color.

I stress that the following is not a diss of either MUNSTERS or ADDAMS FAMILY (I like both), but rather just to bolster two points I've consistently made in this series:  

1) F TROOP performed better than other shows facing similar obstacles, and 

2) Second half performance was consistently a key factor in whether a show was renewed or not--second half surges typically brought you back, second half swoons usually got you a pink slip.  

After ranking as ABC's seventh highest rated show in 1964-65, winning its time slot at 8:30 P.M. on Friday and finishing that season in 23rd place overall (23.9 rating), THE ADDAMS FAMILY remained in black and white for season two but faced new color competition from CBS' HOGAN'S HEROES (24.9 rating, 9th for the season) in 1965-66.  While it took a hit, it still looked like a decent bet for renewal at mid-season:  267.1 rating in 15 airings (17.8 average) and 479.6 share (32.0 average).  A strong enough second place despite a drop to 49th, especially the share, to look like a renewal for the third place network.  But the second half demonstrated further decline, totaling a rating of 256.3 in 15 shows (17.1) and 422.3 share (28.0 average).  It came out to a 17.4 rating, 30.0 total share for the full season.  Despite the respectable overall share, the steady decline throughout the season and eventual fall to (reportedly) 62nd place from 23rd resulted in a cancellation.

THE MUNSTERS suffered a change of fortune that was one of the decade's most abrupt.  13th place in 1964-65 (24.7 rating), and while it dropped into 31st place during the first half, 15 airings through 1/6/66 totaled 320 in ratings (21.3) and 566.6 in share (37.8).  A solid hit still, easily cruising towards renewal.  Then, beginning on 1/13/66, SHINDIG! was out and new color sensation BATMAN (27.0, 5th for the season) was in on ABC.  THE MUNSTERS' final 14 airings totaled 211 in ratings (15.1) and 338.5 in share (24.2).  By the final two week Nielsen report those numbers were down to a 12.1 rating/21.2 share.  While the full season totals were 18.3/31.2 (not 30.7 as I've seen elsewhere, just a number of errors I've found when running these numbers myself) which might result in renewal in a vacuum, the poor third to BATMAN and DANIEL BOONE over the second half sent the MUNSTERS packing just three short months after a third season looked like a lead pipe cinch.  Darn, darn, darn, darn!

In contrast, F TROOP maintained a rating over 20 all season long despite facing the highest ranked and long-established competition, and ratings fell 6.2 points in the time slot in Fall 1966 after F TROOP was moved.   THE ADDAMS FAMILY and THE MUNSTERS are perceived as hits due to high first season rankings and ratings which fell off sharply within a year, while F TROOP gets penalized for its consistency and perceived as a failure for never finishing in the top 25.  Just saying. 

One other comment: TELEVISION had MUNSTERS ending the season in 61st, ADDAMS in 62nd, but again I can't help but notice the likelihood of really lazy tabulation at the time yet again.  I find it hard to believe that not one show finished with an overall rating between 18.3 (MUNSTERS) and 17.4 (ADDAMS)--mainly because I found one above without even trying to!  The aforementioned NBC TUESDAY MOVIE (allegedly in 60th place, remember) averaged a 18.1 rating in 1965-66, so THE MUNSTERS should at least be in 60th instead of 61st.   The MUNSTERS share was wrong for the full season, off a full half point (F TROOP's as you'll recall was reported as 3/10ths of a point lower than actual as well).  I wish I had the time to run ALL the numbers for the season and see what I come up with, given all the errors I am finding in the so-called official Nielsen list.  Maybe another time.

For now, though, I'll be moving back to 1966-67 in the conclusion of this quadrilogy (tetralogy? quartet?).  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 08, 2024

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings - PART TWO - 1966-67 SEASON

Yeah, I know, I promised further exploration of the 1965-66 numbers.  Trust me, that's coming--but I pushed it back a post because the full 1966-67 ratings are now available courtesy of Ratings Ryan!  For more on Ratings Ryan's site, check here, and if you'd like to subscribe and support his research, here's the link to do so.  

Okay, end of commercial.  My thoughts back in 2013 were formed with a handful of ratings obtained from newspapers and limited data (i.e. share only post-season) from TELEVISION magazine.  The opportunity to finally peruse the weekly ratings confirmed my suspicion that this was a tale of two halves when going week by week.  Let's dig in to the Nielsen Ratings for the second and final season for F TROOP:

Moved to 8 P.M. Eastern Time on Thursday night for year two, F TROOP replaced GIDGET one season before Sally Field would reclaim the time slot on ABC in 1967-68 with THE FLYING NUN. That series had already been earmarked for Thursdays at 8 the following Fall by February 1967 (reports indicated F TROOP would likely be moved to Wednesdays).  I'll have more to say about that (debatable) decision when we get to Part 3 of this series, possibly part 4 if I get long-winded (you longtime readers are expecting that, I'd wager).

F TROOP's first color episode and 35th overall, The Singing Mountie aired on 9/8/66 before the official start of Nielsen's 1966-67 period (September 12, 1966 - April 16. 1967) with a 13.9 rating and 25.3 share.  An inauspicious start in the new time period which came in third (NBC's TARZAN preview won the time period), something that would not happen to F TROOP in any ratings period in-season.  That slow start continued until October, when F TROOP began to build its audience on Thursdays.  

The week by week in-season results, with the five highest rated episodes of the season noted):

How to be F Troop Without Really Trying 9/15/66 17.7 rating/30.2 share

Bye, Bye, Balloon 9/22/66 17.9 rating/31.9 share

Reach for the Sky, Pardner 9/29/66 17.3 rating/29.3 share

The Great Troop Robbery 10/6/66 18.8 rating/33.2 share

The West Goes Ghost 10/13/66 18.6 rating/32.0 share

Yellow Bird 10/20/66 18.6 rating/32.0 share

The Ballot of Corporal Agarn 10/27/66 18.5 rating/30.5 share

Did Your Father Come From Ireland? 11/3/66 20.3 rating/32.0 share

For Whom the Bugle Tolls 11/10/66 19.2 rating/31.4 share

Miss Parmenter 11/17/66 18.2 rating/30.1 share

La Dolce Courage 11/24/66 12.5 rating/22.9 share

Wilton the Kid 12/1/66 19.6 rating/31.8 share

The Return of Wrongo Starr 12/8/66 17.5 rating/29.9 share

Survival of the Fittest 12/15/66 19.6 rating/32.8 share

Bring on the Dancing Girls 12/22/66 (No rating - Nielsen Black Week)

The Loco Brothers 12/29/66 19.0 rating/30.7 share

From Karate With Love 1/5/67 24.1 rating/38.5 share (1st)

The Sergeant and The Kid 1/12/67 20.8 rating/32.7 share (3rd-tie)

What Are You Doing After the Massacre? 1/19/67 20.5 rating/31.8 share

Horse of Another Color 1/26.67 19.4 rating/29.3 share

V is For Vampire 2/2/67 19.3 rating/28.8 share

That's Show Biz 2/9/67 20.0 rating/29.0 share

The Day They Shot Agarn 2/16/67 19.9 rating/29.4 share

Only One Russian is Coming! Only One Russian is Coming! 2/23/67 23.4 rating/35.7 share (2nd)

Guns, Guns, Who's Got the Guns? 3/2/67 19.4 rating/30.7 share

Marriage, Fort Courage Style 3/9/67 18.5 rating/29.9 share

Carpetbagging, Anyone? 3/16/67 20.8 rating/33.2 share (3rd-tie)

The Majority of Wilton 3/23/67 18.8 rating/31.9 share

Our Brave in F Troop 3/30/67 19.3 rating/32.0 share

Is This Fort Really Necessary? 4/6/67 20.7 rating/34.2 share (5th)

The Singing Mountie (rerun) 4/13/67 19.2 rating/30.1 share

The total for 30 rated weeks during 1966-67 is 577.4, coming to a 19.2 rating for the full season (splitting hairs, but it is 19.246, almost a 19.3).  The share total: 937.9 so the 31.3 share reported by TELEVISION is correct.  F TROOP scored the same 31.3 share in both of its seasons.  

(underrated guest star above: Patrice Wymore appeared once in each season, and both episodes were in the season's 5 highest rated)

As you'll recall my original thought was that F TROOP took an initial hit after the change of night and time, then steadily improved as the season wore on.  The first 15 airings totaled 273.3 (Sept-Dec 1966) for an 18.2 average (TELEVISION's March 1967 listing excluded the September episodes, covering October to December only, thus the 18.8 there) so in the second half of the season, F TROOP totaled 304.1 or a 20.3 rating in the season's final 15 weeks.  Share totals? 460.7 first half (30.7 share) and 477.2 second half (31.8 share).  Second half surge confirmed.  And since strong finishes were cited as the reasoning behind the renewals of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE and THE MONKEES among others---anyone think that third-place ABC might have wanted a show back with a 20.3 rating/31.8 share over the second half? F TROOP improved its first half rating by 11 percent and its first half share by 4 percent.    

Now, about that ranking, as shown in the screenshot above from the August 1967 edition of TELEVISION:  THE INVADERS is listed 39th, but the second season entry aired 14 times after its 1/10/67 debut and totaled a 267.8 for those airings, or 19.13.  Yup, behind F TROOP's 19.24.  The Monday PEYTON PLACE averaged 19.7, TUESDAY MOVIE 19.75 in 29 airings, MR. TERRIFIC 19.8 in 13 airings (the highest rated cancellation), and F TROOP's lead-in, the Thursday BATMAN was at 19.5 (585.9 in 30 shows).  So those three are correctly ahead of F TROOP, but THE INVADERS is not, and moving up that one spot puts F TROOP in 39th place for the season out of 113 shows.  BATMAN should actually be 38th, with PEYTON PLACE 37th and MR. TERRIFIC in 35th.  Despite these discrepancies, the TELEVISION article is more accurate in this limited sample for 1966-67 than I found it to be the previous season.  Here's what I came up with:

35. MR. TERRIFIC 19.8

35. NBC TUESDAY MOVIE 19.8 (rounding up)



39. F TROOP 19.2



42. THE MONKEES 18.8

42. LOST IN SPACE 18.8


As you'll note, I did double check again by running the shows listed immediately below F TROOP in the rankings also. THE MONKEES ended up at # 42.  Total rating of 546 for 29 airings, or 18.8 to go with the 31.2 share.  LOST IN SPACE had 507 for 27.  HOLLYWOOD PALACE at # 41 also averaged 18.8, though listed # 43 I DREAM OF JEANNIE totaled 532.5 for 28 airings, good for a 19.0 which would put it 41st, with MONKEES, SPACE and PALACE in a tie for 42nd.  Regardless, all remain below F TROOP so I feel confident that 39th place is correct.  This makes F TROOP ABC's eighth highest rated show (behind BEWITCHED, LAWRENCE WELK, RAT PATROL, THURSDAY MOVIE, THE F.B.I., Thursday BATMAN and Monday PEYTON PLACE) after being the network's seventh highest in 1965-66.  

Points of comparison:  CBS's 7th and 8th highest rated shows in those seasons: GREEN ACRES and GOMER PYLE.  NBC's 7th and 8th in the same: I DREAM OF JEANNIE and DANIEL BOONE.  Each one of those shows ended up running at least five seasons.

Looking at the shows F TROOP outranked in 1966-67, it's a pretty impressive list of 1967-68 renewals: WILD WILD WEST, LOST IN SPACE, THE BIG VALLEY, STAR TREK, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, THE MONKEES and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE are just a few of the notables shown above.  THAT GIRL, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA are further down after the top 55.  The oft-maligned GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (shown 49th above) has been frequently cited as an unjust cancellation in 1967--it too was bested by F TROOP.  For the curious, GILLIGAN totaled 525.3 for 29 segments, 18.1 rating; share was 870.3 total, averaging out to the same 30.0 shown above. 

Correcting the standings means that ABC renewed a whopping 11 shows for 1967-68 with lower ratings than F TROOP's.  I can't help but wonder why F TROOP was ranked behind shows that had a lower rating on TELEVISION's list in both 1965-66 and 1966-67.  Four of the five shows (combined) that were erroneously shown to be ahead of F TROOP in the two seasons were strangely ABC shows--there's a significant difference between being the 10th rated show on the network and the 7th.  I doubt if there was an agenda to downplay one show's performance--lazy calculation once past the top 30 seems more likely--but the numbers don't lie: F TROOP performed better than about two-thirds of its peers in each season it was on.

From Karate With Love posted F TROOP's highest share ever with a 38.5 on 1/5/67.  It was not only the entire night's highest rated program (yes, beating 22.9 for BEWITCHED) but was ABC's highest rated program of the entire week ending 1/8/67.  The 24.1 rating was the show's second highest ever behind Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon Is Missing. Only One Russian Is Coming! Only One Russian is Coming posted F TROOP's third highest rating ever on 2/23/67.  So two of the show's three highest Nielsen numbers ever and all of the second season's five highest came in 1967 when the show was supposedly fading. Pre-emptions on CBS no doubt helped these top two episodes, but that could be a double edged sword.  For example:

La Dolce Courage was the lowest rated F TROOP episode ever by a wide margin on 11/24/66, Thanksgiving Day.  The entire ABC lineup was hurt that night, likely by CBS' NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys (the first such game in what is now a 57 year tradition) and the Cleveland Browns (no rating shown, but certain to be stronger than cancelled JERICHO in light of ABC's weakness that night and the SMOKEY THE BEAR special on NBC posting similar numbers to DANIEL BOONE). 

For tbe second consecutive season, F TROOP got the silver medal in its time slot as DANIEL BOONE's 20.5 average rating won the time period (although I've seen 20.8 listed as the season average, I came up with 552.8 in 27 showings or 20.47--rounded up to 20.5, which would be 27th instead of 25th in the rankings).  However, the contest was more competitive than you've been led to believe over the years.  F TROOP scored 11 weekly wins on the season, with a higher rating than BOONE nine times and also winning the time period two of the three times DANIEL was pre-empted.  F TROOP finished ahead of its BATMAN lead-in each of the final five weeks of the season and also bested BOONE  in all but one of those weeks--the only loss coming on 4/13/67 with a rerun of The Singing Mountie (19.2) beaten by an original BOONE episode (21.0).  The final three times DANIEL BOONE and F TROOP both aired a new episode, F TROOP won.  Finally, putting it all together, each of F TROOP's last four new episodes posted the highest rating for the entire 7:30-8:30 P.M. hour on Thursdays (3/16 - 4/6/67). 

Sure doesn't fit the narrative that F TROOP was cancelled in season two after failing to hold the BATMAN lead-in and performing poorly against DANIEL BOONE.  On the contrary, you could make a case that F TROOP was beginning to take over its time slot by season's end.  If ABC didn't want that back, they deserved the decade-long ass kicking they got from CBS and NBC in the Sixties.  No, Ben Kalmenson had it in for the Troop (and for WB involvement in television period) and had production stopped.  If the show had been in the top 10 Kalmenson would have still wanted it gone--ratings didn't matter.  

So to recap the first two parts of my analysis of the Nielsen Ratings for F TROOP, here's the overall findings:

1965-66: 20.4 rating, 31.3 share, 36th out of 108 shows

1966-67: 19.2 rating, 31.3 share, 39th out of 113 shows

So much for that supposed Sophomore slump.  With numbers comes clarity, and I'll save the rest for PART 3, when I plan to debunk some long-held misconceptions about F TROOP's performance in context and in comparison to its peers.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

F TROOP in the Nielsen Ratings: PART ONE - 1965-66 SEASON

Thanks to the ever resourceful Ratings Ryan I now have access to the weekly Nielsen ratings from 1965-66 TV Season.  The weekly pocketbooks, all 111 pages of them, can be accessed at this link.

Incidentally, more about Ratings Ryan here.  We should all be grateful for his work, I know I am.  And I think we should all support him too--please see more on how to at that link, and join me in supporting his efforts if you can.

For my prior observations on F TROOP's performance in the Nielsens, please check out this post from ten years ago.  With more time comes more information, so away we go:

Now I have access to the full season.  Ho ho ho!  You can tell that I am going to get multiple posts out of this new bag of goodies, so let's just call this part one and get on with it.  My initial findings are enough for me to dispute the 40th place ranking F TROOP has been assigned for the season on other online sources.

The Thursday PEYTON PLACE (II) is listed in 38th place for 1965-66 in this TELEVISION MAGAZINE listing from August 1967 with a 33.4 share.  However, running the numbers for all 29 airings of each show (each preempted once) I came up with a 20.44 average rating for F TROOP and 20.23 for the Thursday PEYTON.  

The Monday PEYTON (III) on this year end list comes in at 39th, but remember, at the start of the 1965-66 season this installment aired on Fridays until changing places with FARMER'S DAUGHTER in November.  PEYTON 3 was at 17.5 as of January 2nd per TELEVISION (March 1966 issue) but totaled 174.1 in nine Monday showings for a 19.4 for that night. The Friday airings for the first seven weeks of the season were apparently the only ones considered for that midseason ranking.  Might be splitting hairs, but if it isn't considered the same show, then why isn't there a PEYTON IV on that list for the Monday only showings, especially since they numbered more than the Friday premieres by midseason? 

Why this is important: the season ending numbers taking Mondays only into account gives 21 airings on that day, 429.9 total rating for an average rating of 20.47.  This would put it marginally ahead of F TROOP's 20.44 but remember, those Friday airings are supposed to be included for this program since it technically is the same PEYTON, listed above as having been moved at mid-season.  Those 7 Fridays totaled 120.8 so PEYTON III totaled 550.7 for 28 showings for the entire season or a rating of 19.7.  Incidentally, that 120.8 calculates to a rounded up 17.3, not 17.5.  And including all 15 rated Monday/Friday episodes as of January 2 gives a total of 274.9 even for a midseason 18.3 for PIII.  Eight Mondays at mid-season totaled 19.3--nice second half on that night.

PEYTON PLACE had a second half surge on all three nights and did yeoman's work for third place ABC with competitive showings on three different nights.  Great job, but that doesn't change numbers that show for the entire season, F TROOP outrated PEYTONs I (19.5) II (20.2) and III (19.7) with its 20.4That is, if the Friday/Monday showings are combined as one as they should be.  Since there isn't a PEYTON IV on either list, pretty clear that both are considered one and the same.

I also calculated the Tuesday only PEYTONs just to be sure on that, since some confusion might have been created due to the Friday/Monday switch 7 weeks in.  I came up with 278.8 for 15 Tuesday showings as of Dec. 28th so the 19.1 in TELEVISION seems off; I had 18.6.  By season's end, Tuesday's only, it was 584.1 in 30 airings (no pre-emptions for PEYTON on Tuesday) for a 19.5.  I think it is possible there was some midseason and postseason confusion created by the show's move.  As noted above PEYTON III is shown at 17.5 on the mid-season list, so it appears that the Friday showings only are listed (and calculated wrong to boot).  

Did PEYTON III become PEYTON I accidentally with the switch?  Since the Tuesday midseason numbers also appear off, that's possible.  TELEVISION also has Thursday and Monday PEYTONs as "moved in season", but that's not true, the Thursday edition aired on that day exclusively all 29 weeks.  PEYTON I (Tuesday) comes to 19.5, which fits with the August 1967 ranking of 46th.  PEYTON II (Thursday) comes to 20.2, which likely is 39th but isn't ahead of F TROOP.  19.7 would be the actual rating for III (Friday/Monday) so perhaps that August 1967 TELEVISION ranking of PIII is missing the Friday showings.  But...they still count!

Anyway, leapfrogging these two PEYTONs brings our boys to 38th place.  Listed at 37th place at season's end was SHENANDOAH, at 20.3 at midseason (36th), with 14 airings totaling 285.1.  Having never seen it, I can't understand why it didn't return: the second half total was 264.7 in 13 shows, meaning that despite powerful competition (see more below) it was competing well with a 20.36 rating.

However....SHENANDOAH is also behind F TROOP for the season's ratings after running the full year's numbers--20.44 to 20.36.  We do get a tie with rounding, but unless I am missing something, this puts the TROOP in 37th place at worst now.  Looking further ahead, FUGITIVE (34th) totaled 561.8 for 27 shows, or 20.8, and COMBAT (listed 36th) ended the season with a 20.6 average in my calculations.   BUT...LOST IN SPACE, shown in 35th place above, totaled a 547.0 rating in 27 airings..which comes out to a 20.3!  That changes things up further.  My findings, assuming that I don't track down other discrepancies later:


35. COMBAT 20.6

36. F TROOP 20.44 (20.4)

37. SHENANDOAH 20.36 (20.4)

38. LOST IN SPACE 20.3



Without running more numbers for now, it appears that F TROOP actually finished the 1965-66 season in 36th place, NOT 40th as has been reported elsewhere.   It also appears to be ABC's 7th highest rated show of the season, behind the two BATMANs, BEWITCHED, LAWRENCE WELK, FUGITIVE and COMBAT.  I, for one, will be adjusting my prior posts on the topic accordingly. 

F TROOP had a 21.1 rating per TELEVISION March 1966 at mid-season, though I came up with 20.9 through 1/2/66 (21.1 was correct before the 12/28/65 episode).  Nevertheless with a 20.9/32.9 share at mid-season there was a slight second half dip.  For the full season I came up with a 31.3 share instead of the 31.0 indicated by TELEVISION (908.5 total for 29 airings).  The January-April airings averaged a 19.9 rating/29.7 share.  The show was pre-empted once by a Sammy Davis Jr. special on 2/1/66 which rated 10 percent below the F TROOP second half average with a 17.9.    

Breaking it down, from episode 1 to episode 30 (4 more remained after April 12, the last airing of the 30 week season which ran from September 13, 1965 to April 17, 1966 with one "black week").  The 5 highest rated F TROOP episodes of the first season are noted (1 to 5):

Scourge of the West 9/14/65 22.0 rating/35.2 share (5-tie)

Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon Is Missing 9/21/65 24.5 rating/37.6 share (1)

The Phantom Major 9/28/65 21.5 rating/33.6 share

Corporal Agarn's Farewell to the Troops 10/5/65 20.1 rating/32.6 share

The Return of Bald Eagle 10/12/65 22.5 rating/35.2 share (3)

Dirge for the Scourge 10/19/65 21.5 rating/32.7 share

The Girl From Philadelphia 10/26/65 20.5 rating/32.1 share

Old Ironpants 11/2/65 23.0 rating/36.2 share (2)

Me Heap Big Injun 11/9/65 15.6 rating/27.1 share

She's Just a Build in a Girdled Cage 11/16/65 22.4 rating/34.4 share (4)

A Gift From the Chief 11/23/65  19.7 rating/31.0 share

Honest Injun 11/30/65 20.6 rating/31.5 share

O'Rourke vs. O'Reilly 12/7/65 21.1 rating/32.3 share

The 86 Proof Spring 12/14/65 20.6 rating/32.6 share

Here Comes the Tribe 12/21/65 (Nielsen "black week" no rating)

Iron Horse Go Home 12/28/65 18.5 rating/29.3 share

Our Hero, What's His Name? 1/4/66 20.0 rating/30.1 share

Wrongo Starr and the Lady in Black 1/11/66 20.7 rating/29.8 share

El Diablo 1/18/66 22.0 rating/34.1 share (5-tie)

Go For Broke 1/25/66 20.3 rating/30.9 share

The New I.G. 2/8/66 18.4 rating/27.3 share

Spy, Counterspy, Counter Counterspy 2/15/66 20.7 rating/ 30.1 share

The Courtship of Wrangler Jane 2/22/66 20.5 rating/30.0 share

Play, Gypsy, Play 3/1/66 18.7 rating/26.6 share

Reunion for O'Rourke 3/8/66 21.4 rating/31.6 share

Captain Parmenter, One Man Army 3/15/66 19.6 rating/29.1 share

Don't Ever Speak to Me Again 3/22/66 18.5 rating/27.5 share

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Troop 3/29/66 19.8 rating/28.5 share

Indian Fever 4/5/66 20.3 rating/31.7 share

Johnny Eagle Eye 4/12/66 18.0 rating/27.8 share

Some notes:

Both Me Heap Big Injun and Johnny Eagle Eye had to square off with Elvis Presley, as G.I. BLUES was the NBC Tuesday Night Movie 11/9/65 and was popular enough that night to repeat 5 months later.  It posted a 21.3 when rerun (19.2 in the half hour against F TROOP) which was even higher than its 20.4 overall on 11/9/65.  

I'll go into more detail about the NBC Tuesday Movies vs. F TROOP in a later post, but Fort Courage prevailed in 26 out of 29 contests versus the movies during 1965-66.  Play, Gypsy, Play sustained the other loss on 3/1/66 (to HOME FROM THE HILL, which started an hour earlier than usual at 8 PM ET).  Me Heap Big Injun was F TROOP's only rating below 18 all season; yeah, the Corporal was no match for The King that night. 

The New I.G. might have been hurt a little by the pre-emption the previous week with that 18.4, second lowest rated show up to that point (too bad, it's hilarious).  

As you might expect, F TROOP's only victory against RED SKELTON was on 9/21/65, when Don't Look Now, One of Our Cannon Is Missing outpointed the CBS star 24.5 to 23.0.    

The total 20.4 rating, 31.3 share I came up for the full season is higher than what has been reported elsewhere for both, as is the 36th place ranking.  The total number of shows rated in 1965-66 was 109 (it was 99 at mid-season; ten mid-season replacements) but it appears that F TROOP had higher ratings than every cancelled show during its freshman season except 32nd place BRANDED (which lost a ton of viewers between DISNEY and top-rated BONANZA on Sundays).  It was ahead of at least 17 renewals that I can find for that season and at least 16 renewals the following year--but more on that in future posts of course.

Looking at SHENANDOAH for a second: I can't understand why it wasn't renewed.  ANDY GRIFFITH and ANDY WILLIAMS arguably provided even stiffer competition than F TROOP faced. Still, Robert Horton's series still managed a 20.4 rating (rounding up) and 37th place, gaining on its JESSE JAMES lead-in, finishing the season without a second half dropoff (exactly 20.36 rating in both halves of the season!) and improving a bit on 1964-65's NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (40th that year and the highest rated cancellation).  Might deserve its own post sometime.

And as you might have guessed by the 34th to 40th listing above, I checked accuracy on the spots listed directly below F TROOP by TELEVISION.  Listed # 41 was CANDID CAMERA, Allen Funt's classic that aired all 30 Sundays totaling ratings of 599.4.  Which comes out to a weekly average of 19.98 (20.0 rounded up) for the season.  So this puts it below one PEYTON PLACE shown above but ahead of the Friday/Monday airing--if we include the first seven Fridays.  I'm inclined to believe PEYTON III was listed several spots higher than it should have been.  CAMERA would be below SHENANDOAH as well but this should have it in 40th place, not 41st.  And therefore it took a 20.0 just to make the top 40 in 1966!  I did not find any show listed below 41st with a rating of 20; TO TELL THE TRUTH averaged 19.4 in 29 airings, McHALE'S NAVY 19.8 in 29 (so my guess is that it should be a spot or two higher).

In Part Two I plan to take a deeper dive into the 1965-66 numbers for F TROOP and its competition, as well as the time slot it will inherit in 1966-67.  Stay tuned!