Marc Cushman also co-wrote an excellent book on I Spy.
In there it is hinted that Star Trek's
ratings were not as poor as people think at the end of the second season. NBC had agreed to put Sheldon Leonard's newest TV series, My Friend Tony
, on the schedule, but didn't have room for it. Contractually, they were obligated to put it on the air, so something had to go to make room. They made a decision.
Star Trek, in its second season, was doing respectable business in its Friday night, 8:30 pm slot. Like I Spy, it was pulling in good numbers. Like I Spy, it was usually number two in its time period. Like I Spy, it was in a top ten demographics chart from A.C. Nielsen, this one involving teenagers. Unlike I Spy, it was not appreciated by the network and, therefore, could be sacrificed.
NBC started a rumor in the trades. Star Trek, the network claimed, was doing poorly in the ratings. It was reported then, and still widely believed today, that Star Trek, a show with nearly 20 million viewers each week, and was in the Nielsen Top Ten with viewers between the ages of 12 and 17 was a ratings failure.
But NBC didn't count on the wrath of the Star Trek fans who were extremely loyal - and vocal.
He then credits the "million letters" (debunked as being too high a number years ago) for shaming NBC into keeping Trek
on the schedule and keeping My Friend Tony
I was skeptical because this was the first I'd heard of this in all this time and details or proof were not forthcoming (also the million letters thing). Apparently he was saving it for these volumes. Considering the (otherwise) excellence of that book, I have no doubt these will be great to read.