Fridays take a dramatic turn

CBS scores with frosh series

The number of people watching broadcast television on Friday night continues to dwindle, but CBS is getting the most of those who are showing up this fall.

As week two of the 2005-06 season neared its conclusion, the Eye was the standout net on Friday, winning by 20% or more in key categories with solid first-year dramas “Ghost Whisperer” and “Threshold” and a winning effort from second-year drama “Numbers.”

CBS also rode “CSI” to another victory on Thursday, a night that saw UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” remain a player despite losing a chunk of its premiere rating. The WB got off to a good start with “Smallville” on its new night, and ABC had a credible opening for “Night Stalker.”

On Friday, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, CBS bested second-place ABC by 23% in adults 18-49 (2.7 to 2.2) and by larger margins in both 25-54 and total viewers.

“Ghost Whisperer” (prelim 2.5/9 in 18-49, 10.7 million) was again an easy leader at 8 despite about a 15% decline from its preem, and “Numbers” won convincingly at 10 (prelim 3.2/10, 11.2 million). In between, “Threshold” is far from a powerhouse (prelim 2.3/7, 8.3 million), but it again narrowly led its hour in 18-49.

NBC, with “Inconceivable” going nowhere at 10 (prelim 1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.6 million), and Fox, with “Killer Instinct” a distant fourth at 9 (prelim 1.5/5, 4.6 million), were well behind CBS with a 1.6 average in 18-49. Both almost certainly will make sked changes before November sweeps.

ABC’s lineup was OK but has no real pop, led by “20/20” at 10 (prelim 2.4/5 in 18-49, 8.1 million). One-hour season preem of “Hope & Faith” at 9 (prelim 2.2/7, 7.4 million) challenged for the 18-49 lead.

Looking at the second Thursday of the season, “CSI” (9.4/23 in 18-49, 28.00m) and “Survivor” (5.7/16, 17.29m) both led their hours in 18-49 and other categories, as CBS rolled.

The Eye’s season preem of “Without a Trace” (6.4/17, 20.98m) still couldn’t quite catch NBC’s “ER” in 18-49 (6.6/18, 14.44m) one week after a special preview of “Criminal Minds” won the 10 o’clock hour in the demo for CBS. “Trace,” benefiting from significant lead-in advantages, did win in both 25-54 and total viewers.

Also for NBC, the live season preem of “Will & Grace” performed well (4.4/11 in 18-49, 9.81m), rising sharply over its “Joey” lead-in (3.0/8, 7.45m). That seemed to help “The Apprentice 4” (4.8/12, 10.43m), which was up slightly from its preem.

UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 6.01m) fell 25% behind its big 18-49 preem but continues to look good. Show held up better among younger viewers, declining 20% from its preem in 18-34 (2.4/8 vs. 3.0/10) and just 9% in teens (3.1/11 vs. 3.4/13).

The WB’s “Smallville” shined on its new night (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.90m), winning at 8 in males 12-34 (3.3/11) and setting several timeslot records for the net. “Everwood” didn’t look as good in its bow at 9 (1.3/3, 3.51m), but the Frog enjoyed big year-to-year gains for the night overall and beat UPN in adults 18-34 (2.2/6 to 1.8/5).

At ABC, the fifth-season preem of “Alias” did OK in its tough new 8 o’clock timeslot (2.5/7 in 18-49, 8.21m), and “Night Stalker” was the No. 2 drama at 9 (2.6/6 in 18-49, 7.12m); these are certainly better series perfs than the Alphabet has gotten on the night in recent years. Net wasn’t even on the map at 10, though, with “Primetime” (1.6/4, 5.73m).

Fox’s “The OC” remained steady at 8 despite new drama competish (3.0/8 in 18-49, 6.56m), winning the hour in persons 12-34 (3.8/12). Net then fell off at 9 with “Reunion” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 4.55m).

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