'C.S.I.' strong; NBC, CBS both up over last year

CBS’ “Survivor” launched on its new night to stunning numbers, topping longtime Thursday leader NBC in the leadoff hour in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.

According to prelim Nielsen nationals that will be updated this afternoon, “Survivor: The Australian Outback” debuted in its regular Thursday at 8 p.m. slot before an average of 29.4 million viewers and an adults 18-49 rating of 12.0/29. NBC’s 40-minute “Friends” and 20-minute “Saturday Night Live” spec averaged 21.2 million viewers and a 10.5/25 in the demo.

CBS also received great numbers for rookie crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which won its hour in total viewers (prelim 21.9 million) and adults 25-54 (prelim 10.7/22) and finished a competitive second to NBC’s comedies in 18-49 (8.4/19). “CSI’s” numbers are expected to drop slightly in nationals, though, due to preemptions for basketball on several Eye affils.

For the night, CBS’ 20.7 million is nearly double what it scored on the opening night of the February sweep a year ago (11.4 million), while its 18-49 rating of 8.1/20 is 170% better than last year’s 3.0/8.

NBC’s Thursday lineup, the most dominant on television for more than a decade, held up well, though. It won the night in total viewers (prelim 22.3 million) and adults 18-49 (11.5/28), pulling away from CBS in the final hour behind “ER” (prelim 26.7 million, 13.5/35 in 18-49).

The Peacock was up vs. the same night a year ago — with a lineup that included “Jesse” at 8:30 and “Frasier” at 9 — by 6% in adults 18-49.

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