The 1959–60 United States network television schedule was for the period that began in September 1959 and ran through March 1960.
By the end of the 1950s, the three major U.S. television networks had basically given up direct control of their TV programs. According to TV historians Castleman and Podrazik (1982), ABC allowed Warner Brothers studios to fill 30% of its fall 1959 schedule. The networks "acted as mere conduits", with Warner, Talent Associates, Ziv, Screen Gems, 20th Century-Fox, Goodson-Todman, and Desilu Studios producing nearly everything on the networks; with rare exceptions, only network news and sports were still produced in-house.
By fall 1959 what the Hollywood studios were producing were mostly Westerns. According to Castleman and Podrazik (1984), "the rush to Westerns had become a virtual stampede so that, by the fall of 1959, viewers had their choice from a staggering twenty-eight different Western-based prime time series." Westerns were popular with audiences, but critics lamented the loss of other program formats, which had quietly vanished from the three networks' schedules. The addition of Westerns and game shows came at the direct expense of the live dramatic anthology series seen during television's golden age.
The official schedule was set by each network before the start of the official fall season. The mid-season schedule is listed under the official fall season lineup of each network. The mid-season schedule is from December 1959 to May 1960.
The fall season is from September to November in the U.S..
Lime indicates the #1 most-watched program of the season.
Yellow indicates the top-10 most-watched programs of the season.
Cyan indicates the top-20 most-watched programs of the season.
Magenta indicates the top-30 most-watched programs of the season.
Each of the 30 highest-rated shows is listed with its (rank/rating) as determined by Nielsen Media Research.
↑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.
McNeil, Alex. Total Television. Fourth edition. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
Castleman, Harry & Podrazik, Wally (1984). The TV Schedule Book. New York: McGraw-Hill Paperbacks.
Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine. ISBN 0-345-31864-1.