Liberace Ratings Myth

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

Moderators: Scott Sebring, Ben Bentley

User avatar
Bob Furmanek
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Bob Furmanek » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:48 pm

I've read for years that the Liberace appearance was the highest-rated episode of the entire series. I just looked through the industry trades trying to get some confirmation on this statement with no success.

In fact, according to this excellent article, not a single episode from the second season placed in the top ten weekly ratings. http://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/batgirl/

Any idea how this myth began?

User avatar
John Mack
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by John Mack » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:43 pm

The only way to REALLY know about ratings is to find actual ratings sheets or whatever they're called. If this is not true about the Liberace episode (I always had my doubts to be honest with you all,) I think the highest rated episode would have been the Purr-fect crime. Afterall, that's the epsiode they chose to use to make the Viewmaster reels. Just as guess. Either that, or the pilot.

Not to highjack the thread, but to further the speculation on the Batman ratings' mythos, the story we've all heard about how the pilot epsiode was tested in front of an audience, who turned dials to rate what they're watching...As the story goes, Quote: "Batman tested the lowest of anything ever to that point. The only reason the ratings weren't lower is because the dials didn't go any lower" close quote. I don't believe that the powers that be would aire something that tested so low. Or were they just in a bind, had the $800,000 Batcave set (another thing I'm not sure about) already built and said: "What have we to lose? Lets try it anyway." Hmmm...could be. Holy gamble!

John
Music. BAT! Music.

Gleeps, it's Batman
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:18 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Gleeps, it's Batman » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:17 pm

Batguitarist wrote:The only way to REALLY know about ratings is to find actual ratings sheets or whatever they're called. If this is not true about the Liberace episode (I always had my doubts to be honest with you all,) I think the highest rated episode would have been the Purr-fect crime. Afterall, that's the epsiode they chose to use to make the Viewmaster reels. Just as guess. Either that, or the pilot.

Not to highjack the thread, but to further the speculation on the Batman ratings' mythos, the story we've all heard about how the pilot epsiode was tested in front of an audience, who turned dials to rate what they're watching...As the story goes, Quote: "Batman tested the lowest of anything ever to that point. The only reason the ratings weren't lower is because the dials didn't go any lower" close quote. I don't believe that the powers that be would aire something that tested so low. Or were they just in a bind, had the $800,000 Batcave set (another thing I'm not sure about) already built and said: "What have we to lose? Lets try it anyway." Hmmm...could be. Holy gamble!

John
I would think the pilot would have been the highest rated episode, but I don't really know, just an assumption. I seem to think I read that Smack In The Middle rated higher than Hi Diddle Riddle, I assume because everybody was talking about part 1 the next day at the watercooler or wherever, so extra people tuned in the next night.

As far as the low test scores, I remember hearing Dozier or Fitzsimons or somebody saying that if ABC hadn't already bought the series, they wouldn't have aired it with such low test scores. I guess they had nothing to lose since they'd already paid for it, and their fare earlier in the season wasn't doing well anyway.

As far as the Viewmaster reels, I think Scott(?) (or somebody) said something about there being special cameras on set to capture the images for the Viewmaster reels, so it couldn't have been chosen based on ratings if that's the case.

As to how the myth started, maybe it was put out there by the Liberace fans? I seem to remember reading something to the effect that he was very popular and all of his fans tuned in those nights, and then tuned out again the following week. Just taking a guess as to how it started.

User avatar
Bob Furmanek
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Bob Furmanek » Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:56 am

Thank you very much for the replies.

I can tell you that the View-Master images taken on the set were done with a specially designed dual-35mm camera rig, similar to the popular stereo cameras from the 1950's. Here's an article from an internal View-Master publication.
Attachments
VM bat 2a.jpg

User avatar
Dr. Shimel
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:14 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Dr. Shimel » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:57 pm

The attached item comes from Broadcasting Magazine and shows that neither of the Liberace eps made it in the Top 20 that week. While some may quibble that it's not the Nielsen ratings, this might be as close as we get:
Attachments
Liberace.jpg
Liberace.jpg (37.19 KiB) Viewed 3464 times

User avatar
Batfanman
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:03 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Batfanman » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:09 pm

Bob Furmanek wrote:Thank you very much for the replies.

I can tell you that the View-Master images taken on the set were done with a specially designed dual-35mm camera rig, similar to the popular stereo cameras from the 1950's. Here's an article from an internal View-Master publication.
Very interesting - I guess those Viewmaster pix are unique from the filmed episodes, which I always had presumed was the source material. Wonder how many shots total they took? Would love to see what wasn't released.
Every Day Is BATMAN DAY!
Visit & Like - https://www.facebook.com/batfanman66

User avatar
epaddon
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:09 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by epaddon » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:28 pm

We'd maybe need to gauge how those episodes did those nights against their competition. I noticed that none of Batman's competitors on Wednesday (Lost In Space, The Virginian) or Thursday (Daniel Boone, Jericho) made the Top 20 either. Was it perhaps Batman's best ratings night in terms of beating the competition that season?

User avatar
Bob Furmanek
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Bob Furmanek » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:38 pm

Thank you for posting that scan from Broadcasting. I think that proves conclusively that it was not the highest rated or most viewed episode. I'm sure one of the first season shows would get that honor.

Are the issues of Broadcasting from that period available on-line? The Media History Digital Library only has them up to 1955.

User avatar
epaddon
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:09 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by epaddon » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:40 pm


User avatar
epaddon
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:09 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by epaddon » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:48 pm

Just found the 1/17/66 issue and it says this.

"First week of ABC-TV's so-called second season was a smash success according to 50 market Trendex report as Batman, which was introduced last week scored ratings of 27.3 and 29.6 and shares of 49.5 and 58.8."

User avatar
Batfanman
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:03 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Batfanman » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:55 pm

Wouldn't be surprised if the myth came from Liberace's publicist.
Every Day Is BATMAN DAY!
Visit & Like - https://www.facebook.com/batfanman66

User avatar
epaddon
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:09 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by epaddon » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:28 pm

From 1/31/66. Second week Trendex rating was 25.5 and 27.8.

The Nielsen ratings were given out over a two week average. For Batman's debut, it came out in the Top 10 with 26.2 and 26.3.

So yes, I think we can lay to rest this matter of the Liberace rating. Maybe it was their best for a new show in S2 but that's of course a totally different thing.

User avatar
Dr. Shimel
Posts: 0
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:14 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Dr. Shimel » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:34 pm

I've mentioned before that the Wednesday night shows were tanking because people figured they could get caught up quickly at the start of Thursday's ep ("We have already seen"). By mid-November 1966, that disappeared.

User avatar
Bob Furmanek
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:19 pm

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Bob Furmanek » Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:58 am

Very interesting and thank you for the link!

User avatar
Frenchy1939
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 29, 2015 12:29 am

Re: Liberace Ratings Myth

Post by Frenchy1939 » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:19 pm

I am watching all the episodes on blu ray in order (hey, I'm a year late but better late than never).

Man, the Liberace episodes are the only ones (so far) that had me scratching my head and saying to myself, "why am I watching this?"

Those episodes were like a bad dress rehearsal for a Jr. High play! No way that was a highest rated episode.

Post Reply