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NBC, CBS in tight Thursday tussle

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

NBC’s advantage over CBS among adults 18-49 was shaved to 9% on the third Thursday of the season, as the Eye’s steady combo of “Survivor,” “CSI” and “Without a Trace” delivered its most competitive numbers yet. CBS also moved ahead in adults 25-54 for the first time on a Thursday while expanding its lead in total viewers.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, NBC’s “Friends” (9.8/28 in adults 18-49, 21.1 million viewers overall) remained the night’s top-rated program in adults 18-49 but with one of its lowest firstrun scores in recent memory. That hurt the rest of the net’s comedy lineup, with “Scrubs” (7.4/19), “Will & Grace” (7.5/18) and “Coupling” (5.8/14) all recording second-place finishes to CBS’ combo of “Survivor” and “CSI.”

At 10, though, “ER” (9.2/23 in adults 18-49, 19.9 million viewers overall) remained comfortably ahead of CBS’ “Without a Trace” (5.6/14 in adults 18-49, 16.9 million viewers overall), although this gap has closed noticeably from last year as well.

For CBS, “Survivor” (7.4/20 in adults 18-49, 19.4 million viewers overall) and “CSI” (9.6/23 in adults 18-49, 26.2 million viewers overall) were on par or better than their week-ago scores. “CSI” was the night’s top show in both adults 25-54 and overall audience.

Fox again was competitive with postseason baseball (roughly 4.4/11 in adults 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall for the Red Sox-Yankees game).

ABC continues to show improvement on the night, especially at 9 with “Extreme Makeover” (3.2/8 in adults 18-49, 8.6 million viewers overall) and at 10 with “Primetime” (3.4/9 in adults 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 8.2/21; CBS, 7.5/19; Fox, 4.4/11; ABC, 2.8/7; UPN, 2.0/5; WB, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: CBS, with 20.8 million, easily topped NBC’s 17.1 million.

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