1960: John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon debate live in the first Presidential debates to be broadcast on television. It's also the first year that television is broadcast in New Zealand.
Notable TV premieres of the year: My Three Sons (ABC), The Flintstones (ABC), and The Andy Griffith Show (CBS). Notable TV finales of the year: Howdy Doody.
Top 20 Prime Time Broadcast Programs, October 1959 - April 1960:
|RANK||PROGRAM||NETWORK||HH RATING||HH SHARE|
|3||Have Gun Will Travel||CBS||34.7||53|
|6||Father Knows Best||CBS||29.7||43|
|6||77 Sunset Strip||ABC||29.7||47|
|8||The Price Is Right||NBC||29.2||45|
|9||Wanted: Dead Or Alive||CBS||28.7||44|
|11||The Real McCoys||ABC||28.2||44|
|12||The Ed Sullivan Show||CBS||28.0||42|
|15||The Ford Show||NBC||27.4||43|
|17||Dennis The Menace||CBS||26.0||41|
1959-60 is the first year that we have data on the top 20 shows and it's solidly in the "West(ern) is best" era with the top 3 shows and a truly impressive 9 of the top 20 shows (Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Rifleman, The Lawman, Cheyenne, Rawhide, and Maverick).
77 Sunset Strip was the first hour-length private detective series in American television.
It was also a strong period for CBS which had 10 of the top 20 shows, ABC had 7, and NBC 3 (better than 2007-8!).
For a bit of perspective, the top rated show this season, Tuesday's American Idol, Season To Date HH rating is 16.1 and its share is 24. Don't forget that a HH ratings point today means a lot more households than it did in the past.
Gunsmoke title card courtesy of Wikipedia.
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©2005 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.