NBC always tried to hit the nail with their TV movies, speaking up about social issues that never seem to be discussed in the actual news cycle. In the case of EVERY 9 SECONDS, which aired on Sunday, October 12, 1997, NBC wanted to open America’s eyes about spousal abuse. The TV drama starred Amy Pietz as a crisis line worker, searching for Gail O’Grady, an abused woman who had called her on the crisis hotline to say that she is going to proclaim revenge against her abusive ex-husband. For two hours, the movie showed what is really going on behind closed doors, even though that didn’t seem to change much, because domestic abuse is still going strong, sadly.
Against the competition – CBS and ABC aired TV movies as well, while FOX had Baseball and The WB offered sitcom ware – EVERY 9 SECONDS wasn’t able to get anything though. Only 9.0 million viewers (6.8/11 in Households) tuned in, putting NBC on #4 in the 9:00pm timeslot. At the end of the week, the movie landed in the bottom half of the weekly Nielsen charts, probably disappointing NBC a little bit. EVERY 9 SECONDS also showed that, while you can grab big ratings with social issues that interest viewers, there are also social issues that simply seem to be too much for the viewers. And it’s not like domestic abuse was always a flop on broadcast television.