CBS drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” added another first to its string of rookie-year accomplishments Thursday by topping original episodes of NBC’s comedies in young-adult demos for the first time.
The hit series combined with more dominant numbers from “Survivor: The Australian Outback” (28.42 million, 11.7/32 in adults 18-49) to give CBS another victory in total viewers over NBC’s lineup of firstrun series. Eye also pulled to within three ticks of the nightly adults 18-49 lead (8.2 vs. 8.5) and was just a couple of ticks behind in 25-54 (9.4 vs. 9.6).
CBS would have topped NBC on the night in the key demos if it could have dreamed up a better score at 10 p.m., where its “48 Hours” (3.6/10 in A18-49, 4.0/10 in A25-54) stumbled with a report on sleeping disorders.
According to Nielsen, “CSI” won its time period in total viewers with its second biggest audience yet (23.5m), and also prevailed in key demos such as adults 18-49 (9.2/23), adults 25-54 (11.0/25) and adults 18-34 (7.5/20). It’s the first time the drama has topped an original “Will & Grace” and “Just Shoot Me” on NBC in either 18-49 (9.2 vs. 7.4) or 18-34 (7.5 vs. 7.0).
“CSI” is on such a roll, in fact, that it pulled to within 820,000 viewers of NBC’s long-dominant “ER” (24.32m), which again easily won its 10 p.m. hour but with its third-smallest audience ever for a firstrun Thursday episode. The medical skein tied with “Survivor” as the night’s top draw in adults 18-49 rating (11.7 each).
“Survivor,” meanwhile, topped NBC’s firstrun “Friends” and “The Weber Show” by 104% in total viewers and by 83% in adults 18-49. Reality adventure series, which wraps its second season on May 3, has averaged the same demo rating each of the past three weeks, but on Thursday drew its largest overall crowd in three weeks.
XFL championship a loser
Meanwhile, NBC’s coverage of the XFL championship game on Saturday night (a lopsided Los Angeles victory over San Francisco) failed to generate much viewer interest. Net’s metered-market primetime overnight score for the night was a dismal 2.4/4, and even that was inflated by a brief overrun in much of the country from NBA playoff action (Minnesota-San Antonio).
Nationally, the “Million Dollar Game” appears poised to come in with ratings slightly above the previous week’s playoff game (2.5 million viewers, 1.0/4 in A18-49).
On Friday night, ABC received a standout perf from a Barbara Walters spec focusing on adoption, “Born in My Heart: A Love Story.” It delivered the largest aud (prelim 15.4 million), highest women 18-49 rating (6.1/18) and best women 25-54 rating (7.9/20) for ABC with news programming in the 10 p.m. hour in 13 months.