According to television historians Castleman and Podrazik (1982), the networks' schedules were thrown "into complete chaos" by the quiz show scandals that erupted during fall 1958. At first only one series, Dotto, was implicated in the game-fixing charges. Ed Hilgemeier, a contestant on the program, filed a complaint with the show's sponsor, Colgate-Palmolive. Colgate withdrew its sponsorship of the Tuesday evening (on NBC) and daytime (on CBS) versions of Dotto, and the show did not appear on either network's fall 1958 schedule.
The $64,000 Challenge (on CBS) similarly did not appear that fall, and by November, The $64,000 Question (CBS) and Twenty One (NBC) were also removed from the network schedules, amidst accusations of game rigging. According to Castleman and Podrazik, "NBC and CBS were adamant in their own statements of innocence" since they only aired, and did not produce, the rigged series. They also claimed the cancellations were due to low ratings, not because of game-fixing accusations. ABC had few game shows on its 1958-1959 schedule, and "eagerly pointed out" its innocence in the quiz show mess. The network affirmed its commitment to Westerns, which could not be rigged.
Western TV series continued to be very popular with audiences, and for the first time, the three highest-rated programs on television, CBS's Gunsmoke, NBC's Wagon Train, and CBS's Have Gun – Will Travel, were all Westerns. ABC's new series, The Rifleman even hit #4, quite a feat for a network which had had no series in the top 30 five years earlier.
Although ABC, CBS, and NBC remained the largest television networks in the United States, they were not the only companies operating television networks during this era. In May 1958, Ely Landau, president of the NTA Film Network, announced an NTA Film Network schedule for the 1958-1959 season. The schedule consisted of three and a half hours of programs on Friday nights: Man Without a Gun at 7:30, followed by This is Alice at 8:00, then How to Marry a Millionaire at 8:30, and Premiere Performance from 9:00 to 11:00. Although the NTA Film Network had over 100 affiliate stations, only 17 agreed to air the Friday night schedule "in pattern" (during the scheduled time). Other NTA Network affiliates carried the network's programs whenever they had available slots, and outside of Gun, Alice, Millionaire and Performance, NTA's programs were aired whenever the local stations preferred. National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to PBS founded in 1952, also allowed its affiliate stations to air programs out of pattern.
All times are Eastern and Pacific. New fall series are highlighted in bold. The highest-rated show for the year is highlighted in lime. The top ten rated programs are highlighted in yellow. The top 20 rated programs are highlighted in cyan. The top 30 rated programs are highlighted in magenta.. Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its (rank/rating) as determined by Nielsen Media Research.
|ABC||You Asked For It||Maverick (6/30.4)||Lawman (27/26.0)||Colt .45||Encounter||Local|
|CBS||Lassie||The Jack Benny Program / Bachelor Father||The Ed Sullivan Show||General Electric Theater (25T/26.7)||Alfred Hitchcock Presents (24/26.8)||The $64,000 Question||What's My Line?|
|NBC||Saber of London||Northwest Passage (Color)||The Steve Allen Show (Color)||The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (Color)||The Loretta Young Show||Local|
|ABC||7:00 Local / 7:15 ABC News||Polka-Go-Round||Bold Journey||The Voice of Firestone||Anybody Can Play||This is Music||10:30 John Daly and the News / 10:45 Local|
|CBS||7:00 Local / 7:15 Douglas Edwards with the News||Name That Tune (25T/26.7)||The Texan (15/28.2)||Father Knows Best (13T/28.3)||The Danny Thomas Show (5/32.6)||The Ann Sothern Show (21T/27.0)||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse / The Westinghouse Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show (once a month)|
|NBC||7:00 Local / 7:15 Huntley-Brinkley Report||Tic Tac Dough (Color)||The Restless Gun||Tales of Wells Fargo (7/30.2)||Peter Gunn (16T/28.0)||Alcoa Theatre / Goodyear Television Playhouse||The Arthur Murray Party (Color)||Local|
Note: The Westinghouse Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show was later rebroadcast and syndicated as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. In most areas, Douglas Edwards with the News and The Huntley-Brinkley Report aired at 6:45 p.m.
|ABC||7:00 Local / 7:15 ABC News||Cheyenne (18/27.9) / Sugarfoot (21T/27.0) / Bronco||The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (10/29.1)||The Rifleman (4/33.1)||Naked City||Confession||10:30 John Daly and the News / 10:45 Local|
|CBS||7:00 Local / 7:15 Douglas Edwards with the News||Stars in Action (repeats)||Keep Talking||To Tell the Truth||The Arthur Godfrey Show||Red Skelton Show (12/28.5)||The Garry Moore Show|
|NBC||7:00 Local / 7:15 Huntley-Brinkley Report||Dragnet||The George Gobel Show (Color) / The Eddie Fisher Show (Color)||The George Burns Show||The Bob Cummings Show||The Californians||Local|
Confession, with host Jack Wyatt, premiered as a summer replacement on ABC on June 19, 1958, in advance of the 1958-1959 television season. It ended on January 13, 1959, when it was succeeded by the paranormal anthology series Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond.
|ABC||7:00 Local / 7:15 ABC News||Lawrence Welk's Plymouth Show||The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet||The Donna Reed Show||The Patti Page Oldsmobile Show||The Wednesday Night Fights|
|CBS||7:00 Local / 7:15 Douglas Edwards with the News||Twilight Theater (repeats)||Pursuit||The Millionaire (30/25.6)||I've Got a Secret (9/25.8)||Armstrong Circle Theatre/The United States Steel Hour|
|NBC||7:00 Local / 7:15 Huntley-Brinkley Report||Wagon Train (2/36.1)||The Price is Right (11/28.6)(Color)||Milton Berle starring in the Kraft Music Hall (Color)||Bat Masterson||This is Your Life (29/25.8)||Local|
|ABC||7:00 Local / 7:15 ABC News||Leave It to Beaver||Zorro||The Real McCoys (8/30.1)||The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom||The Rough Riders||Traffic Court||10:30 John Daly and the News / 10:45 Local|
|CBS||7:00 Local / 7:15 Douglas Edwards with the News||I Love Lucy (repeats)||December Bride||Yancy Derringer||Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater (13T/28.3)||Playhouse 90|
|NBC||7:00 Local / 7:15 Huntley-Brinkley Report||Jefferson Drum||The Ed Wynn Show||Twenty One||Behind Closed Doors||The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford (20/27.2)(Color)||You Bet Your Life||Masquerade Party (Color)|
|ABC||7:00 Local / 7:15 ABC News||The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin||Walt Disney Presents||Man with a Camera||77 Sunset Strip||10:30 John Daly and the News / 10:45 Local|
|CBS||7:00 Local / 7:15 Douglas Edwards with the News||Your Hit Parade||Trackdown||The Jackie Gleason Show||The Phil Silvers Show||Schlitz Playhouse/Lux Playhouse||The Lineup||Person to Person|
|NBC||7:00 Local / 7:15 Huntley-Brinkley Report||Buckskin||The Adventures of Ellery Queen (Color)||M Squad||The Thin Man||10:00 Gillette Cavalcade of Sports / 10:45 Fight Beat|
|NTA||Local||Man Without a Gun||This is Alice||How to Marry a Millionaire||Premiere Performance|
Note: On CBS, Rawhide (28/25.9) premiered in the 8-9 p.m. slot on January 9, with Phillies Jackpot Bowling premiering in the 10:45-11 p.m. spot that night on NBC, while on March 13 Tombstone Territory replaced Man with a Camera on the ABC schedule.
|ABC||Local||The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show||Jubilee USA||Lawrence Welk's Dodge Dancing Party||Sammy Kaye's Music from Manhattan||Local|
|CBS||Local||Perry Mason (19/27.5)||Wanted: Dead or Alive (16T/28.0)||The Gale Storm Show||Have Gun – Will Travel (3/34.3)||Gunsmoke (1/39.6)||Local|
|NBC||Local||People are Funny||The Perry Como Show (21/27.0)(Color)||Steve Canyon||Cimarron City||Brains & Brawn|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Castleman, Harry; Walter J. Podrazik (1982). Watching TV: Four Decades of American Television. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 124–129. ISBN 0-07-010269-4.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 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.
- ↑ Kleiner, Dick (1958-05-03). "Thin Man Mystery Show May Add Baby to Cast". The Lima News: pp. 19
- ↑ http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1958.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.