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‘CSI’ overwhelms NBC laffers

Eye plucks Peacock's Thurs. nest

CBS is smelling blood on Thursday.

After last season becoming the first net in NBC’s “Must See TV” era to draw more overall viewers than the Peacock on Thursday, CBS is this fall making even more inroads on what is the primo night for television advertising.

Last Thursday, the Eye net topped the Peacock in adults 25-54 (9.3/21 vs. 8.5/20), according to Nielsen, and has now bested NBC in this demo two of the last three times that both nets aired original segs of their regular skeds. The Eye also had a substantial edge in total viewers (21 million vs. 17.3 million).

But even more significantly, NBC’s advantage over CBS in the lucrative 18-49 demo was shaved to 9% (8.3/21 vs. 7.6/19) — down from the 24% advantage of a week earlier and the 28% margin in the same week last season. Two years ago in the comparable week, NBC enjoyed a 50% lead.

CBS has not improved vs. last year on Thursday (indeed, it was down 11% year-to-year in 18-49); it’s just that NBC was off by a bigger 21%. Fox, continuing its strong baseball run this month, was up 66% year-to-year (4.8/13 vs. 2.9/8) and likely affected both of the leading nets, while ABC, with “Extreme Makeover” hitting a season high, shot up by 71% from its weak year-ago showing (2.9/7 vs. 1.7/4).

‘CSI’ powerhouse

CBS was led Thursday by “CSI” (9.7/23), which overwhelmed NBC’s combo of “Will & Grace” (7.5/18) and “Coupling” (5.6/13) in 18-49. “CSI” also outrated NBC’s “ER” in the demo for the first time this season (9.7/23 vs. 9.3/24) and will finish as the week’s top show in both adults 25-54 (11.8/26) and total viewers (26.54m).

NBC’s trio of “Friends,” “Will & Grace” and “Scrubs” will rank as the week’s top three comedies in 18-49, but overall the net’s 8-10 p.m. laffer lineup is limping a bit.

Compared to last season, “Friends” was off by 19%, “Scrubs” by 17% and “Will & Grace” by 29%. And 9:30’s “Coupling,” which retained 75% of its “Will & Grace” lead-in, was down 36% from last year’s “Good Morning Miami.”

That softness made it tougher at 10 for “ER” (9.3/24, 20.05m), but the medical drama built nicely on its lead-in and handily defeated CBS’ “Without a Trace” (5.3/13, 16.15m) and ABC’s “PrimeTime” (3.4/9, 9.49m). “ER” was down 24% vs. last year in 18-49, “Trace” was flat and “Primetime” improved by 54%.

NBC third Friday

On Friday, NBC’s revamped lineup showed some improvement, but the net settled for third in 18-49, behind Fox’s baseball and ABC’s regulars.

At 9, “Miss Match” (prelim 2.5/8 in 18-49, 6.2 million viewers overall) was up from last week’s 8 o’clock showing, airing behind a repeat of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (2.5/9, 6 million).

“Match” was no match, however, for ABC’s strong rookie comedy “Hope & Faith,” whose prelim 3.6/11 in adults 18-49 matched its week-earlier score and easily topped all non-baseball competish.

CBS’ drama lineup appeared to be affected by Fox’s baseball and NBC’s moves, as “Joan of Arcadia” (prelim 2.7/9 in 18-49, 11 million) was off about 10% week-to-week and “JAG” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 11.4 million) a big 30%. Things didn’t get better at 10, where first-year “The Handler” fell to third (1.9/6 in 18-49, 8 million), behind ABC’s “20/20” and NBC’s special repeat of “Law & Order: SVU,” which tied with a 3.2/10 in the demo.

Saturday was a big night for sports, with Fox projected to win with baseball and NBC a strong second with a NASCAR race.

Fox’s three League Championship Series baseball games over Friday and Saturday were up sharply year-to-year. Biggest gains came from the early Saturday game (Red Sox-Yankees), whose 10.0 rating/21 share in metered-market overnights was up 72% from last year.

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