ABC: 7 Facts You Did Not Know

ABC has been producing outstanding programming since the days of radio back in 1943. Born out of NBC’s sale of their Blue Network, ABC eventually got into television in 1949, making it one of the big three stations. The network is currently owned by Disney, who has had partnerships with the network on and off for years. Read on to find out more about ABC, their programming and their history.

Number Seven: ABC Was the First to Allow Pre-Taped Shows

Setting themselves apart from the other stations, ABC began using a Magnetophon tape recorder to pre-record their shows, which CBS and NBC were not doing. This was especially crucial to maintaining Bing Crosby’s show, as he preferred working in a recording studio as opposed to broadcasting live.

Number Six: Their First Color Broadcast Was a Cartoon

The first color program on ABC was The Jetsons in 1962. Though an earlier cartoon, The Flintstones, was shot in color since it debuted in 1960, initial episodes were shown in black and white because the network was slow in converting their programming to the new color format.

Number Five: They Broadcast the Opening of Disneyland

Part of ABC’s first partnership with Disney was contingent on the network investing in a new theme park being built in California. When Disneyland opened, the network produced a special program, Dateline Disneyland, with host Art Linkletter, to coincide with the event. The network also aired a weekly television program with the same name as the park, which became their first top 10 hit.

Number Four: They Aired the Most Watched Television Series in History

When ABC aired the miniseries version of Alex Haley’s Roots, it became the most watched and discussed program in history. It’s initial airing earned 130 million viewers, with the final episode drawing in nearly 100 million viewers. All episodes continue to rank in Nielsen’s list of the top 100 rated TV shows of all time, with the final episode coming in at number three.

Number Three: They Had the First Female Evening News Anchor

At a time when it was felt that women could not be taken seriously reporting on hard news stories, ABC decided to take a chance with Barbara Walters. Hiring her away from NBC’s The Today Show, Walters became the first female in evening news, co-anchoring the ABC Evening News along with Harry Reasoner.

Number Two: They Had a Short-Lived Presence in the UK

In 2004, the Disney-ABC Television Group decided to launch ABC1 in the UK as the network’s first oversees channel. Available through cable and satellite providers, the channel was dropped in 2007, citing a change in the network’s direction and the lack of primetime space as reasons for the shutdown.

Number One: At One Point, They Held Half of the Top Nielsen-Rated Shows

Between 1977 and 1979, ABC was the number one station in the country. This was reflected in the Nielsen ratings for these years as well. For the 1977-1978 season, the network was airing 12 of the top 20 programs, as listed by the ratings system, and for the 1978-1979 season, aired 14 of the top 20. Even more impressive was the fact that ABC’s shows also held the top five spots on the list. Thank you for reading our list of 7 interesting facts about the ABC network. We hope you enjoyed it!