The 1951–52 United States network television schedule began in September of 1951 and ended in the spring of 1952. This was the first television season of national network interconnection by coaxial cable and microwave, meaning programming could be transmitted live coast-to-coast (or in the case of filmed programs, distributed simultaneously across the country) if needed.
On Sunday nights, NBC experimented with airing its new comedy-variety program Chesterfield Sound-off Time (featuring Bob Hope, Fred Allen and Jerry Lester as rotating hosts) in an early evening timeslot, 7:00–7:30. Previously, network TV variety programs had only been aired during late evening hours. According to television historians Castleman and Podrazik (1982), the experiment was designed to "duplicate the early-evening radio success of Jack Benny". (Benny himself would appear on rival network CBS's The Jack Benny Program immediately following Chesterfield Sound-off Time). Red Skelton also made his network television debut on NBC's Sunday night schedule this season, but long-term success eluded him until after he moved to CBS in the fall of 1953.
Although most TV programming was live, both CBS and NBC also experimented in filmed series; Castleman and Podrazik highlight early filmed hits I Love Lucy on CBS and Dragnet on NBC. Dragnet was "one of NBC's first major experiments in filmed TV series"; the series was added to NBC's regular network schedule in January 1952, after a "preview" on Chesterfield Sound-off Time in December 1951. I Love Lucy was given what historians have called a "choice time slot": Monday night immediately following the number one program on television: Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. The series "proved the strength and acceptability of TV sitcoms, giving [CBS] a strong weapon against NBC's flashy comedy-variety hours".
DuMont, too, avoided flashy comedy series when in February 1952, in desperation the network added Bishop Fulton Sheen's program, Life Is Worth Living, to its Tuesday night schedule. The religious series was pitted against NBC's hit program Texaco Star Theater, and became the surprise hit of the year, holding its own against Texaco host "Uncle Miltie", and attracting a sponsor, an Emmy, and 10 million viewers. The ABC and CBS programs which aired in the same time slot, Charlie Wild, Private Detective, and The Frank Sinatra Show (respectively), attracted relatively few viewers.
New fall series are highlighted in bold. The highest-rated show for the year is colored in gold, the second-highest appears in silver, and the third-highest in bronze. Each of the top 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its (rank/rating) as determined by Nielsen Media Research. 
Note: On CBS, The Jack Benny Program aired as occasional specials once every six to eight weeks.
|ABC||7:00 After the Deadlines / 7:15 Local||Hollywood Screen Test||The Amazing Mr. Malone/Mr. District Attorney||Life Begins at Eighty||Curtain Up||The Bill Gwinn Show||Studs' Place|
|CBS||Local||7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show||Lux Video Theatre||Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts (1/53.8)||I Love Lucy (3/50.9)||It's News to Me||Studio One|
|NBC||Kukla, Fran and Ollie||7:30 The Mohawk Showroom / 7:45 Camel News Caravan||The Speidel Show||The Voice of Firestone||Lights Out||Robert Montgomery Presents (26/34.4) / 9:30 Somerset Maugham TV Theater 10:00 The Author Meets the Critics||Who Said That?|
|DMN||Captain Video and His Video Rangers||Local||Stage Entrance||The Johns Hopkins Science Review||Wrestling from Columbia Park|
- In January 1952, The Speidel Show was renamed for its star, The Paul Winchell Show.
|ABC||7:00 After the Deadlines / 7:15 Local||The Beulah Show||Charlie Wild, Private Detective||What Do You Think?||United or Not||On Trial||Q.E.D.||The Symphony|
|CBS||Local||7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Stork Club||The Frank Sinatra Show||Crime Syndicated||Suspense||Danger||Local|
|NBC||Kukla, Fran and Ollie||7:30 The Little Show / 7:45 Camel News Caravan||Texaco Star Theater (2/52.0)||Fireside Theater (7/43.1)||Armstrong Circle Theater (24/34.7)||The Original Amateur Hour|
|DMN||Captain Video and His Video Rangers||Local||What's the Story||Keep Posted||Cosmopolitan Theater||Hands of Mystery||Local|
|ABC||7:00 After the Deadlines / 7:15 Local||Chance of a Lifetime||Paul Dixon Show||Don MacNeill's TV Club/The Arthur Murray Party||The Clock||Celanese Theater/King's Crossroads|
|CBS||Local||7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show||Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (6/43.3)||Strike It Rich (25/34.5)||The Web||10:00 Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts (17/37.5) / 10:45 Sports Spot|
|NBC||Kukla, Fran and Ollie||7:30 The Mohawk Showroom / 7:45 Camel News Caravan||The Kate Smith Evening Hour||Kraft Television Theater (23/34.8)||Break the Bank||The Freddy Martin Show|
|DMN||Captain Video and His Video Rangers||Local||The Gallery of Mme. Liu-Tsong||Shadow of the Cloak||Local|
|ABC||7:00 After the Deadlines / 7:15 Local||The Lone Ranger (18/36.8)||Stop the Music||Herb Shriner Time||Gruen Guild Playhouse||Paul Dixon Show||10:30 Masland At Home Party / 10:45 The Carmel Meyers Show|
|CBS||Local||7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Stork Club||The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show/The Garry Moore Evening Show||Amos 'n' Andy (13/38.9)||The Alan Young Show (22/35.8)||Big Town (15/38.5)||Racket Squad (29T/32.0)||Crime Photographer|
|NBC||Kukla, Fran and Ollie||7:30 The Little Show / 7:45 Camel News Caravan||You Bet Your Life (10/42.1)||Treasury Men in Action||Ford Festival||Martin Kane, Private Eye||Local|
|DMN||Captain Video and His Video Rangers||Local||Georgetown University Forum||Broadway to Hollywood – Headline Clues||The Adventures of Ellery Queen||Crawford Mystery Theatre||The Bigelow Theatre||10:30 Local / 10:45 Football This Week|
|ABC||7:00 After the Deadlines / 7:15 Local||Life with Linkletter/Say It with Acting||Mystery Theater||The Stu Erwin Show (aka Trouble With Father)||Crime with Father||Tales of Tomorrow/Versatile Varieties||The Dell O'Dell Show||Industries for America|
|CBS||The Stork Club||7:30 Douglas Edwards with the News / 7:45 The Perry Como Show||Mama (11/41.3)||Man Against Crime (29T/32.0)||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||Live Like a Millionaire||Hollywood Opening Night|
|NBC||Kukla, Fran and Ollie||7:30 The Mohawk Showroom / 7:45 Camel News Caravan||Quiz Kids||We, the People||The Big Story||The Aldrich Family||10:00 Gillette Cavalcade of Sports (19/36.5)/ 10:45 Greatest Fights of the Century|
|DMN||Captain Video and His Video Rangers||Local||Twenty Questions||You Asked For It||Down You Go||Front Page Detective||Cavalcade of Stars|
|ABC||The Ruggles||The Jerry Colonna Show||Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club||Lesson in Safety||America's Health||Harness Racing|
|CBS||The Sammy Kaye Variety Show||Beat the Clock||The Ken Murray Show||Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town||The Show Goes On||Songs for Sale|
|NBC||The American Youth Forum||One Man's Family||All-Star Revue* (20T/36.3)||Your Show of Shows (8/43.0)||Your Hit Parade|
|DMN||Local||Wrestling from the Marigold in Chicago|
*formerly Four Star Revue
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Castleman, Harry; Walter J. Podrazik (1982). Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 63–72. ISBN 0-07-010269-4.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Weinstein, D. (2004). The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television, p. 156–157. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-499-8.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1951.htm
- 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.