Reunion special stings Eye, Peacock

ABC has struggled mightily on Thursdays this season, but last week it was goodbye gray sky, hello blue, as a “Happy Days” reunion spec scored the net’s best Thursday numbers in two years to kick off the February sweep.

The Alphabet still couldn’t catch NBC or CBS on Thursday, but its “Happy Days” success put a dent in the ratings of hits at the Peacock and Eye. ABC went on to score a narrow demo victory on Friday, while Fox’s veteran law-enforcement reality skeins captured Saturday.

According to Nielsen nationals for Thursday, the 30th-anniversary “Happy Days Reunion” spec averaged a hearty 6.2 rating/15 share in adults 18-49 and 19.92 million viewers overall from 8-10 p.m. Featuring such stars from the classic comedy as Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and Marion Ross, get-together won its block in total viewers and easily led its first hour in key demos.

ABC hasn’t done this well on a Thursday without sports since the night of the Michael Jackson documentary in February 2003.

NBC, led by “ER” (8.8/22 in 18-49, 18.09m), still won in 18-49 (6.9/17), while CBS, paced by “CSI” (8.9/21 in 18-49, 24.96m), led in 25-54 (7.7/17) and total viewers (18.5 million). “ER” was the night’s No. 1 telecast in 18-49, with “CSI” in 25-54 and total viewers.

“CSI,” though, fell to its lowest regular firstrun scores of the season opposite “Happy Days,” as did NBC’s “Joey” at 8 (4.3/12 in 18-49, 9.96m).

NBC’s “The Apprentice 3″ was a solid second at 9 (7.2/17 in 18-49, 14.80m), while Fox’s “Point Pleasant” drooped further (1.5/3 in 18-49, 3.32m) — retaining less than half of its “The OC” lead-in (3.4/9 in 18-49, 7.25m).

Friday was tightly contested, with solid perfs across the board helping ABC (2.8/8) edge past CBS (2.7/8) and NBC (2.6/8) in preliminary 18-49 Nielsen figures.

Just as CBS promos began trumpeting it as the net’s latest “smash hit,” new drama “Numbers” (prelim 3.3/10 in 18-49, 11.5 million) fell off sharply from its impressive slot premiere of a week earlier (5.0/14 in 18-49, 15.5 million), although it still led its hour.

“Numbers” grew nicely from its “JAG” lead-in (prelim 1.9/6 in 18-49, 10.2 million) and topped both ABC’s “20/20″ (prelim 3.0/9 in 18-49, 8.9m) and NBC’s “Medical Investigation” (prelim 2.9/9 in 18-49, 8.7m). After “Numbers” beat its NBC drama rival by 100% in their first encounter (5.0 vs. 2.5), that advantage was shaved to 12% this time (3.3 vs. 2.9).

ABC’s comedy block was sturdy, with an hour of “8 Simple Rules” (prelim 2.5/8 in 18-49, 8.1m) second at 8 to a CBS Super Bowl commercials spec (prelim 2.8/9, 9.3m). And “Hope & Faith” ruled in demos at 9 (prelim 2.9/9 in 18-49, 8.5m), followed by season-high scores for “Less Than Perfect” at 9:30 (prelim 2.8/8, 7.8m).

Also notable was a season high at 9 for the WB’s “Reba” (prelim third-place 2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.0 million), which featured guest star James Denton of “Desperate Housewives.”

A repeat-plagued Saturday went to Fox with original hours of “Cops” (2.8/9 in 18-49, 6.9m) and “America’s Most Wanted” (2.8/9, 6.9m).

NBC’s repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (3.1/9 in 18-49, 10.6m) won out at 10 over ABC’s repeat of “Desperate Housewives” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 7.5m) and an original episode of CBS News crimemag “48 Hours” (1.9/6, 6.8m). Peacock won the night in total viewers.

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