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NBC won the ratings race last week for the 41st consecutive week but the countdown continued in the network's effort to set a new record.

ABC came in second, despite the very strong showing of its Academy Awards broadcast, which came in first for the week. CBS was third.NBC had previously claimed it was in position to set a new record for consecutive weekly wins in the ratings race, which its researchers said was 40 weeks, set by CBS in the 1962-63 season.

Last week the network learned that its research department had erred and the previous record, set by CBS in '62-'63, was 46 weeks.

NBC was able to keep its winning streak intact, despite ABC's strong Oscar showing, because of the strength of its Thursday night schedule - its entire prime schedule was in the top 20 and three sitcoms - "The Cosby Show," "A Different World" and "Cheers," were in the top five.

The network also had its Sunday movie in the top 10 - "The Case of the Hillside Stranglers" came in sixth. ABC's "Beverly Hills Cop" was 15th and the CBS Sunday movie, "The Morning After," was 54th.

The bad news for NBC was "Quantum Leap," which came in 55th in its regular time period on Friday nights against CBS's "Dallas" (31st) and ABC's "Mr. Belvedere" (38th) and "Just The 10 of Us" (42nd).

It doesn't look bright for "Moonlighting," which bowed in and bombed out in its new Sunday night time period - it turned up in 70th place on the Nielsen list that includes Fox shows.

Seven out of the bottom 10 shows came from ABC.

The ratings for the week ending April 2, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., gave NBC a 15.8 rating and a 26 share. ABC was second with a 14.4 rating and a 24 share, while CBS was third with an 12.4 rating and a 21 share.

In the struggle for second place for the season, ABC and CBS contend the season did not start until Oct. 24, because the Writers Guild strike delayed the debuts of new series well past the normal September start date.

Using the CBS-ABC season, NBC leads with a 15.8 rating and a 26 share. ABC is second with a 13.0 rating and a 21 share, while CBS is third with a 12.7 and a 21 share.

NBC maintains the season began Sept. 19, a year after the start of the previous season. In that version, NBC leads with a 16.1 rating and a 26 share. ABC is second with a 13.0 rating and a 21 share and CBS comes in last with a 12.6 rating and a 21 share.

CBS was back on top in the hotly contested evening news race. The "CBS Evening News" with Dan Rather and had a 10.6 rating and a 21 share, while ABC's "World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings posted a 10.4 rating and a 20 share. "NBC Nightly News" with Tom Brokaw was third with a 9.4 rating and a 19 share.