"Bread and Circuses"
March 15, 1968
IT HIT TOO CLOSE TO HOME FOR NBC! 49 years ago this day, NBC gave “Bread and Circuses” its only network broadcast. The network boys felt the episode was making fun of them, and even insisted that a reference to the gladiator fight being televised “in living color” be deleted from the episode. It was changed to just, “in color.” Then, NBC chose not to repeat the episode during the summer. And the network cancelled Star Trek (or tried to) because, they said, the ratings were bad. Were they? The truth is finally out.
For the night that “Bread and Circuses” aired on NBC, here is how A.C. Nielsen reported the viewing habits of Americans:
RATINGS / Nielsen National report for Friday, March 15, 1968:
57.9% U.S. TVs in use. Audience Share: Households watching:
NBC: Star Trek 37.2% 16,130,000
ABC: “The Actor” 9.3% 5,150,000
CBS: Great Gold Rush 32.9% 13,050,000
Local independent stations: 20.6% No Data
And there you have it yet again – Star Trek wins its timeslot and is NBC’s top-rated show of the night. It had happened many times before. And it would happen many times again. So what gives? Why did Star Trek really get cancelled? Find out the true story – see the ratings reports for all the episodes; read the memos and letters, and discover Star Trek like you never have before in These Are the Voyages, TOS [The Original Series]. This is the book series that Leonard Nimoy called “astounding.” Find out why. Get the entire set, autographed by author Marc Cushman, here.
* While some of the images in the excepts are shown in color, all images in the book are in black and white.