NBC prevails in key demos

Form held in Thursday’s primetime ratings race as the second week of the February sweep kicked off, with NBC and CBS programs again dominating the important night.

The Peacock prevailed in key demos including adults 18-49 (10.0/25), up 6% from its February average a year ago and 20% better than second-place CBS (8.3/20), according to Nielsen. The Eye net remained on top in total viewers (24.6 million).

Ratings for most of the key programs were down a bit vs. the previous week, although NBC’s 44-minute “Friends” matched its week-earlier 18-49 score (11.4/29, 25.90 million viewers) and opened up a bigger advantage over CBS’ “Survivor” in their common 8 o’clock half-hour.

“Survivor: All-Stars” (8.1/21 in 18-49, 22.45m) was down 9% in 18-49 from its Thursday premiere a week earlier and, at this point at least, is performing only slightly better than “Survivor: The Amazon” last winter.

CBS drama “CSI” ruled the 9 o’clock hour in 18-49 (10.3/24) and 25-54 (13.0/27, top show of the night), both down a tad from the previous week. As the only scripted choice among broadcast nets in the hour (unless you count UPN’s wrestling), “CSI” is padding its total-viewer numbers. Fourth-year show drew its largest overall aud ever Thursday (30.94 million) — a bigger crowd than even any episode of Fox’s “American Idol” this season.

Opposite “CSI,” NBC’s “The Apprentice” (9.1/22 in 18-49, 18.47m) was also down slightly week-to-week, but continues to perform very well, placing second in 18-49 and first in 18-34; it again topped “Survivor” as Thursday’s top reality skein in 18-49.

“ER” took the 10 o’clock hour (10.1/26 in 18-49, 21.95m), down slightly week-to-week, while CBS’ “Without a Trace” (6.3/16, 20.12m) was up a tick in 18-49 and set series records in adults 25-54 (8.3/19) and total viewers (20.12m). “Trace” retained an improved 61% of its “CSI” 18-49 lead-in.

Like Thursday, Friday went to NBC in adults 18-49 (3.3/10) and to CBS in total viewers (11.2 million), according to Nielsen prelims.

Peacock did well with a two-hour “Dateline” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 11.0 million), while “Third Watch” at 10 (3.3/10 in 18-49, 9.3m) finished in a virtual first-place 18-49 tie with a special repeat of CBS drama “CSI: Miami” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 11.2m) as the Eye continues to rotate its top-rated crime dramas in the hour where “The Handler” failed.

ABC placed an atypical third on the night (2.6/8 in 18-49), settling for the bronze at both 8 and 10, while Fox fizzled (fourth-place 1.7/5 in 18-49) with specs “Celebrity Spelling Bee” and “When Animals Attract.”

Fox rebounded on Saturday, as a two-hour spec, “Cops: Love Hurts,” delivered the net its best non-sports ratings on the night since last February (3.5/11 in 18-49, 8.6m), winning every half-hour in 18-49, 25-54 and 18-34.

ABC did pretty well with the net preem of “The Princess Diaries” (2.7/8 in 18-49), while CBS’ “Star Search” (2.0/7) and NBC’s “The Tracy Morgan Show” (1.4/5) both picked up 1 share, according to prelim 18-49 results.

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