Spinoff soars, 'Raymond' wins in demos, total viewers

“CSI: Miami” became the most-watched drama premiere in eight years Monday, helping cap a boffo opening night of the season for CBS.

The Eye net, which also scored big with two episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” dominated in most key measures, sweeping Monday’s half-hours in both adults 25-54 and total viewers and winning five of six in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen.

Overall, it was CBS’ most-watched premiere Monday in nine years.

“CSI: Miami,” the much-anticipated spinoff of the smash Thursday hit “CSI,” averaged an 8.6/21 in adults 18-49 and 23.1 million viewers overall. CBS hasn’t done better demos with a series in Monday’s 10 p.m. hour since “Chicago Hope” in 1996, and hasn’t seen a larger overall aud there since “Northern Exposure” in 1994.

And no series on any net has delivered a larger opening-night audience since the fall of 1994, which saw the two-hour “ER” premiere sampled by nearly 24 million viewers.

From 10 to 11, “CSI: Miami” easily disposed of NBC’s competing crime drama, “Crossing Jordan,” which aired a special 90-minute seg that began at 9:30 — beating it by 95% in adults 18-49 (8.6 vs. 4.4), by 116% in adults 25-54 (10.6 vs. 4.9) and by 113% in total viewers (23.10m vs. 10.85m).

While trying to strike a cautious note, it was hard for CBS topper Leslie Moonves to contain his excitement over the Monday numbers.

“Anyone who declares victory after one week is foolish,” he told Daily Variety. “But across the board, we couldn’t be happier. Every half-hour worked. It’s a great opening to the week.”

Moonves said the topic of more “CSI” spinoffs has already come up, albeit in jest.

“When I called the producers this morning, I said to them, ‘CSI: New Orleans?’,” the Eye exec quipped.

Moonves also praised the performance of the rest of the net’s Monday lineup, singling out 8:30 p.m. laffer “Yes, Dear,” from 20th Century Fox TV, as the “unsung hero” of the night.

As for NBC, the final hour of “Jordan,” which was last season’s No. 1 new drama, was off a respectable 28% from its year-ago series preem in adults 18-49 (4.4 vs. 6.1). NBC would likely be happy if it leveled off at a 4 demo rating in upcoming weeks.

Indeed, NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker said the Peacock “felt great” about its Monday performance.

“We’re very happy here,” he said. “We exceeded our expectations … against the juggernaut.”

One NBC exec admitted the net had been nervous about how “Jordan” would perform opposite “CSI.”

“But if we’re anywhere near this number (in the weeks ahead), we’re not moving ‘Crossing Jordan,’ ” the insider said.

As for “CSI: Miami,” a CBS Prods./Alliance Atlantis skein from Jerry Bruckheimer, skein’s 8.6 rating among adults 18-49 more than doubles what “Family Law” managed a year ago for CBS (3.3). It’s also higher than the top-rated drama premiere of each of the past two seasons — ABC’s “Alias” last year (6.2) and Fox’s “Dark Angel” in 2000 (8.5) — but behind NBC’s “Third Watch” three years ago (9.6).

Leading into “CSI: Miami” was a double dose of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” with the 9:30 special seg (24.04m, 8.8/19) building on the 9 o’clock episode (23.27m, 8.0/18 in A18-49), which became “Raymond’s” most-watched season premiere yet.

Net also did well with the season preems of “King of Queens” (14.95m, 4.8/14 in A18-49) and “Yes, Dear” (15.03m, 4.9/12), although both were off about 20% year-to-year in the demo.

For the night, then, CBS was up an impressive 33% vs. its opening Monday of last season in adults 18-49 (7.3 vs. 5.5) and up 43% in total viewers (20.6 million vs. 14.4m).

As expected, CBS’ stronger performance in the 10 p.m. hour translated to tasty ratings for its late local newscasts. Net’s affiliates averaged a 9.5/17 across the 53 metered markets, up 30% in rating from the comparable night last year (7.3/13).

Eye is also hoping that the muscular showing at 10 can boost its “Late Show With David Letterman.” On Monday, though, “Late Show’s” 4.1/10 in metered-market overnights still lagged behind NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (5.1/14) — a similar deficit it opened with last season.

Year-to-year comparisons are tough to make based on one night. Letterman’s show, for example, delivered stronger-than-usual ratings on opening night last season with an interview with New York mayor Rudy Guiliani.

ABC, despite weakness in the anchor slot from “Drew Carey” (5.91m, 2.2/6 in A18-49), was second. “Monday Night Football” (19.13m, 8.2/22) delivered another solid score and is now up by about 6% vs. last season through its first three games.

NBC opened the night with a “celeb” edition of “Fear Factor” (11.30m, 5.1/13 in A18-49) that merely matched what “Weakest Link” and “Dateline” did in the 8-9:30 slot last year. For the night, NBC’s 4.7 rating in 18-49 was down 15% year-to-year.

And Fox didn’t do much with its two-hour “American Idol” concert in Las Vegas (7.17m, 3.2/8 in A18-49), although it gave the net year-to-year gains in 18-49 (3.2 vs. 2.8).

UPN’s comedy block bowed nicely Monday, with new 8 p.m. anchor “The Parkers” delivering the timeslot’s best adults 18-34 rating (2.4/7) since January 1999 (“Dilbert”). Preem of CBS Prods. laffer “Half and Half” (2.1/5 in adults 18-34) also shined, retaining most or all of its “Girlfriends” lead-in among key femme demos.

At the WB, “Everwood” continues to look good, retaining 89% of its premiere-week adults 18-34 rating (2.5/6 vs. 2.8/7).

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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