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1950–51 United States network television schedule

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The 1950–51 United States network television schedule began in September of 1950 and ended in the spring of 1951. This season became the first in which primetime was entirely covered by the networks. It was also the inaugural season of the Nielsen rating system. Late in the season, the coast-to-coast link was in service.

In September 1950 NBC added two live variety series, Four Star Revue and The Colgate Comedy Hour, to its fall schedule. These programs were a network effort to bring NBC's most popular radio stars to television; talent included Eddie Cantor, Jack Carson, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Jimmy Durante, Danny Thomas, Ed Wynn, Bob Hope and Fred Allen. The two new star-studded series were scheduled directly against two of CBS's most popular programs: Four Star Revue went up against Arthur Godfrey and Friends on Wednesday nights, while The Colgate Comedy Hour was slated against Toast of the Town. NBC was confident that its strategy would pay off.[1]

CBS answered NBC's schedule with big radio stars and variety programs of its own, bringing in Frank Sinatra and (in occasional specials) Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, and Edgar Bergen. "Despite the big budget variety shows in its schedule, though, CBS felt that situation comedy was actually a more stable television form that would be easier to exploit in the long run."[1]

In many time slots, the underfunded DuMont Network did not bother to compete against NBC's or CBS's hit series, instead airing what some TV historians have called "time-filler". For example: "During its long run [The Johns Hopkins Science Review] was scheduled against such hit shows as Break the Bank [and] Dragnet, programs from which its network had little chance of luring away viewers."[2] During fall 1950, The Court of Current Issues and The Johns Hopkins Science Review aired at the same time as the most heavily viewed program on television, NBC's Texaco Star Theater. Given the competition, DuMont's Tuesday night public-affairs programming attracted virtually no audience. The network had some success with a crime drama that had debuted in January the previous season titled Inside Detective (later retitled Rocky King, Detective), which became one of the longest-running series on the network. Another DuMont series to debut during the season, Star Time, while short-lived, is remembered for including a television version of the popular radio sketches The Bickersons, and for being an early example of a sponsored network series to feature an African-American as a regular (jazz pianist Teddy Wilson, a familiar member of the Benny Goodman Sextet).

New fall series are highlighted in bold.

Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its rank and rating as determined by Nielsen Media Research.[3]

     Yellow indicates the programs in the top 10 for the season.
     Cyan indicates the programs in the top 20 for the season.
     Magenta indicates the programs in the top 30 for the season.









Network 7:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 8:00 p.m. 8:30 p.m. 9:00 p.m. 9:30 p.m. 10:00 p.m. 10:30 p.m.
ABC Sandy Dreams Life with the Erwins Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club Roller Derby
CBS 6:30 The Big Top 7:30 The Week in Review / 7:45 The Faye Emerson Show The Ken Murray Show (28/32.1) The Frank Sinatra Show Sing It Again Local Programming
DMN Captain Video and His Video Rangers Local Programming Country Style Saturday Night at the Garden
NBC The Hank McCune Show One Man's Family The Jack Carter Show Your Show of Shows (4/42.6) Your Hit Parade (29/32.0)


  1. ^ a b Castleman, Harry; Walter J. Podrazik (1982). Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 53–62. ISBN 0-07-010269-4. 
  2. ^ Heldenfels, R. D. (1994) Television's Greatest Year: 1954. New York: Continuum, pg 177–178. ISBN 0-8264-0675-0
  3. ^ Highest-rated series is based on the annual top-rated programs list compiled by Nielsen Media Research and reported in: Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  • McNeil, Alex. Total Television. Fourth edition. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  • Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (1964). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (3rd ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.