NBC still rules Thursday

Eye ranks second with 'Survivor,' 'CSI'

“Survivor: Marquesas” remains an island of strength for CBS, adding a few new viewers in its second week — but not enough to overtake NBC’s still-mighty “Friends”-led Thursday night lineup.

While the second seg of NBC’s new 8:30 p.m. laffer “Leap of Faith” took a bit of a dip from its premiere, Peacock still handily won the evening in viewers and most key demographic groups. CBS ranked second, thanks to “Survivor” and another strong showing from “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

“Friends” (12.4 adults 18-49 rating/31 share, 26.3 million viewers) dominated at 8 p.m., taking a 48% demo lead over the first half-hour of “Survivor,” according to Nielsen. At 8:30, “Leap” (8.8/21, 18.65m) held on to about 71% of its lead-in, but once again finished behind the second half-hour of the Eye’s reality powerhouse.

Compared with its Feb. 28 bow, “Leap” was down about 11% — not too bad considering its initial seg was given a huge promo push during the Peacock’s Olympics coverage. And while it’s never a good thing for a show to lose nearly 30% of its lead-in, NBC spinmeisters noted that the Eye’s Monday laffer “Becker” suffered a similar drop-off from its “Everybody Loves Raymond” lead-in last week.

As for “Survivor,” the second episode of the fourth installment of the franchise averaged a healthy 9.4/23 demo rating, attracting 23.44 million viewers overall. The 3% week-to-week build, while minor, is nonetheless a good sign that the reality hit may have stopped the Nielsen downtick that seemed to set in during last fall’s “Survivor: Africa.”

CBS also remains firmly in control of the 9 p.m. hour, with a new episode of “CSI” (9.5/23, 26.73m) easily beating the Peacock’s combination of “Will & Grace” (9.6/23, 18.49m) and “Just Shoot Me” (8.0/19, 15.45m.) “Will” just edged out the first half-hour of “CSI” in adults 18-49; both NBC laffers won their timeslot in adults 18-34.

“CSI” again outdrew “Friends” and “ER” to rank as Thursday’s most-watched show, though the two NBC skeins were in front among adults 18-49.

At 10 p.m., “ER” (11.4/29. 23.78m) cruised to an easy victory, outdrawing the total viewership for the Eye’s “The Agency” (3.8/10, 10.89m) and ABC’s “PrimeTime Thursday” (2.3/6, 7.98) combined.

Elsewhere Thursday, ABC once again had little to celebrate: Net’s lineup ranked fifth in adults 18-49, finishing behind UPN’s “WWF Smackdown!” and beating only drama repeats on the WB.

Overall Thursday, NBC led in total viewers with 21.12 million, just ahead of CBS (20.35m.) ABC was third (6.96m), followed by UPN (5.62m), Fox (5.39m) and WB (2.41m). Adults 18-49 averages had NBC in front (10.3/25), followed by CBS (7.6/19), Fox (2.3/6), UPN (2.3/6) and WB (1.0/2.)

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