Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

The public’s infatuation with Michael Jackson continued Thursday night, as ABC scored an extremely rare victory on the night with a two-hour-plus special “20/20″ featuring an interview with the pop star.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, ABC captured the night with a 10.6/25 in adults 18-49 and 25.7 million viewers overall. “20/20: Living With Michael Jackson” (roughly 11.1/26 in adults 18-49, 27.5 million viewers overall) delivered more than 5 times the net’s 8-10 p.m. average this season and defeated head-to-head at 9 both CBS’ “CSI” (9.1/20 in adults 18-49, 25.3 million viewers) and NBC’s “Will & Grace” (8.3/18 in adults 18-49, 12.6 million viewers).

From roughly 10:10-11 p.m., “Primetime” – a post-game of sorts featuring more Jackson coverage – averaged a projected 9.6/23 in adults 18-49 and 22.5 million viewers overall, placing a close second in demos to the hourlong score for NBC’s “ER” (10.0/24 in adults 18-49, 21.1 million viewers).

NBC ran second, and first in adults 18-34, led by “Friends” (10.9/27 in adults 18-49, 23.1 million viewers overall), which beat “20/20″ head to head at 8 and then tied the ABC spec with a repeat at 8:30 (10.6/25).

CBS finished third, with the finale of “Star Search” (4.2/10 in adults 18-49, 13.9 million viewers overall) getting overwhelmed from 8 to 9.

Fox wasn’t even in the game with its repeat of “Joe Millionaire” (1.9/5 in adults 18-49) and newsmag “The Pulse” (1.6/3).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 10.6/25; NBC, 9.3/22; CBS, 6.1/14; Fox, 1.7/4.

In total viewers: ABC, 25.7 million; NBC, 19.4 million; CBS, 18.0 million; Fox, 4.3 million.

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