Eye tries to topple ABC

ABC and CBS are neck and neck in demos on Thursdays, and the nets have also dueled to a primetime draw for the week’s young-adult title.

The Eye, a close second in adults 18-49 for the first three weeks of the season, broke through with a share of the crown last week (4.0 rating/11 share), while ABC has now finished on top all four weeks — the best start for any net since NBC in 2002 and the longest in-season winning streak for the Alphabet since the heyday of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in the spring of 2000.

Nielsen also reported that third-place NBC (3.7/10 in adults 18-49) was again on the rise year to year, while fourth-place Fox (2.5/7) suffered through more weak postseason baseball numbers and was off more than 20% across the board vs. the same frame last year.

CBS remained on top in adults 25-54 (5.2/13) and total viewers (13.4 million) for a fourth straight sesh. ABC had the edge over runner-up NBC in persons 12-34 (2.9/9 to 2.7/9).

Key to the tight demo race was once again the Thursday tussle between the “Grey’s Anatomy”-led Alphabet and the “CSI”-powered Eye.

“Grey’s” (9.4 rating/22 share in adults 18-49, 22.88 million viewers overall) won the head-to-head battle between the drama heavyweights and was the week’s top-rated program, but “CSI” (7.5/18 in 18-49, 21.85m) was a not-too-shabby third among all programs for the week in 18-49.

Other top five performers in the demo were ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” at No. 2 (8.3/19, 20.64m), the Alphabet’s “Lost” at No. 4 (6.9/17, 16.89m) and NBC’s “ER” at No. 5 (6.1/16, 14.57m).

ABC won Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday in 18-49, while CBS was more consistent, placing second in 18-49 on six nights. The Thursday showdown saw the Alphabet squeak past the Eye (5.8 to 5.7), with CBS winning in adults 25-54.

Eye’s rookie drama “Shark” has been a consistent performer on Thursday (4.0/11 in 18-49, 14.15m), holding a bit more than half of its “CSI” demo lead-in every week.

CBS also was looking good on Wednesday, where “Criminal Minds” (4.5/14 in 18-49, 16.73m) had its most competitive effort to date opposite ABC’s “Lost” and “CSI: NY” (6.0/16, 17.97m) had its best showing in nearly a year. Kicking off the night, “Jericho” was down a bit but still a solid No. 2 for its hour (3.2/9, 10.86m).

And on Sunday, an NFL overrun led into the highest-rated “60 Minutes” since January (4.5/12 in 18-49, 17.26m) as the newsmag devoted extensive time to the Duke lacrosse team rape case.

Over at ABC, “Ugly Betty” (4.3/12 in 18-49, 13.95m) led into “Grey’s Anatomy” with more pretty results, while “Grey’s” lead-out, “Six Degrees” (3.6/10, 8.69m), held steady week to week but continues to retain less than 40% of the medical drama’s aud. And Wednesday drama “The Nine” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 8.25m) looked shaky, tumbling 33% from its nothing-special preem of a week earlier.

“Dancing With the Stars” again impressed for the net, winning its Tuesday slot (5.6/15 in 18-49, 20.10m) and prevailing Wednesday (4.6/13 in 18-49, 18.21m) with the highest-rated results show to date.

In addition to “ER,” NBC was paced by the week’s highest-rated rookie in 18-49, Monday drama “Heroes” (5.9/14, 13.34m), which was also the frame’s top primetime program in men 18-34 (6.2/17) — ahead of even football on Monday and Sunday.

Also of note was a good bow for Friday gamer “1 vs. 100″ (4.2/13 in 18-49, 12.77m), which logged the best 18-49 result for any series on the night since CBS’ “Numbers” in January 2005. Net got a boost a night later as well from a NASCAR race (2.6/9 in 18-49, 7.80m).

Fox couldn’t catch a baseball break as the Detroit Tigers-Oakland Athletics series ended in just four games and the New York Mets-St. Louis Cardinals series got off to a slow start as well. Through Sunday, the net’s League Championship Series average was down nearly 20% year to year.

The CW averaged a 1.7 rating for the week in adults 18-34, on par with the WB and UPN in the same week a year ago. Net was paced by season-high results for “America’s Next Top Model” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 5.50m) and good numbers for drama anchors “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville.”

In the evening news race, NBC’s “Nightly News” (2.3/9 in adults 25-54, 8.84m) edged out ABC’s “World News” (2.2/9, 8.04m), with CBS’ “Evening News” third for a second straight week (2.0/8, 7.33m). Eye’s Katie Couric-fronted newscast was the only program to improve vs. the same week a year ago, rising 11% in 25-54 while NBC eased 4% and ABC fell 12%.

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On Monday of the current week, NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” hit lows (3.1/8 in 18-49, 7.74m) even though the net’s “Deal or No Deal” (season-best 5.2/14, 17.47m) and “Heroes” (5.7/13, 12.96m) remained potent in front of it.

“Studio” had built last week but then fell 16% to its lowest score to date. It was handily beaten in 18-49 by CBS vet “CSI: Miami” (5.8/15, 18.12m) and also fell a tick behind ABC’s “What About Brian” (3.2/8, 7.34m). “Brian,” in its second season after airing for only a handful of times last spring, matched or set regular-slot highs in most key categories.

CBS laffer “The Class,” also was on the decline (3.0/8, 8.46m), losing 9% of its 18-49 lead-in from “How I Met Your Mother” (3.3/9, 9.05m) one week after gaining 3%. Next few weeks will be key for “Class” as the Eye would like to see it match or build on “Mother.”

And at the CW, net’s former Sunday comedy block bowed on its new night with pretty good results. Led by “Girlfriends” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.08m) and “Everybody Hates Chris” (1.3/4, 3.00m), lineup was up 15% in 18-34 vs. the net’s most recent firstrun Monday with dramas. At 9:30, “The Game” held 88% of its “Girlfriends” 18-34 lead-in (1.5/4 vs. 1.7/4).

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