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Net’s Eye on crime

'CSI' closes in on 'Grey's'

After taking some jabs to the solar plexus earlier this fall, CBS vet “CSI” is fighting back in its heavyweight tussle with “Grey’s Anatomy.”

On Thursday, the Eye’s crime drama pulled to within less than 1 ratings point of the Alphabet’s medical skein among young adults and opened up a wider advantage among total viewers, helping CBS post its first 18-49 victory this season on a night that it has ruled in recent years.

According to Nielsen nationals, “CSI” (8.0 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, 24.11 million viewers overall) was within shouting distance of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” in 18-49 (8.7/21, 20.92m), with the dramas tied for the 25-54 lead (9.7/21). “Grey’s” had won the first seven head-to-head firstrun battles with “CSI” by at least 1½ ratings points in 18-49.

For “CSI,” the 8.0 rating in 18-49 matched its season high, while it also drew its largest overall aud of the fall — though the show is still off by more than 20% vs. last year, when the competish was much softer.

And “Grey’s” remains a juggernaut for ABC, most weeks tripling or quadrupling what the net delivered on the key night last season.

A likely factor in the week-to-week gains for both “CSI” and “Grey’s” was NBC’s weak-performing comedy “30 Rock” (2.4/6 in 18-49, 5.19m), which was making its Thursday bow after a less-than-stellar brief run on Wednesdays. From 9:30 to 10, the 2.3 demo rating for “30 Rock” was a 39% dropoff from “Deal or No Deal” in the time period the prior week (3.8).

CBS also led the night’s opening hour with “Survivor: Cook Islands” (5.3/14 in 18-49, 15.35m), which rebounded from its season low of a week earlier. NBC’s super-sized episodes of “My Name Is Earl” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 9.12m) and “The Office” (4.2/10, 8.43m) finished second, slightly ahead of ABC’s “Ugly Betty” (3.9/11 in 18-49, 12.95m).

“Betty” has softened in recent weeks after a hot start, but it remains a big upgrade in the hour for ABC.

At 10, NBC’s “ER” remained on top in demos (5.5/15 in 18-49, 12.52m) despite a third-place finish in total viewers. Chipping away at its demo lead were ABC’s Barbara Walters spec “30 Mistakes in 30 Years” (4.8/13 in 18-49, 12.91m) and CBS drama “Shark” (4.4/12 in 18-49, 15.24m), with the first-year Eye drama hitting season highs.

At Fox, ” ‘Til Death” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.55m) and “The OC” (1.7/4, 3.77m) both rose a bit week to week, but the net remains well behind its rivals.

For the night, CBS held a narrow advantage over ABC in adults 18-49 (5.9 rating/15 share to 5.8/15), with the Eye winning more easily in both adults 25-54 (7.3/17 to 6.7/16) and total viewers (18.3 million to 15.6 million).

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