‘Stars’ aligned for ABC

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

“Dancing With the Stars” returned with good numbers for ABC on Thursday night, while NBC got off to an encouraging start with its new comedy block. CBS remained on top, though, as “CSI” was again the evening’s top-rated show.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, the two-hour season premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” averaged a 4.7 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 17.3 million viewers overall, placing second to CBS for the time period. This is ABC’s best regular-series perf in the time period among adults 18-49 since March 2001. “Dancing,” which will regularly air a 90-minute seg beginning next week, was up 9% over its first season’s premiere last June.

CBS, which ran second in the opening hour with a repeat “CSI” (4.7/12 in 18-49, 17.3 million viewers overall), won at 9 with a firstrun “CSI” (9.3/23 in 18-49, 27.4 million viewers overall) and at 10 with a new “Without a Trace” (6.7/17 in 18-49, 20.6 million viewers overall).

NBC was paced by “ER” (6.2/16 in 18-49, 14.0 million viewers overall), which moved to the demo lead at 10:30. Its comedy block looked good in its first week, with “My Name is Earl” leading the way at 9 (5.2/13 in 18-49, 11.2 million viewers overall) and “The Office” hitting season highs at 9:30 (4.5/11 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall), retaining a best-yet 87% of its 18-49 “Earl” lead-in. In its premiere, 8:30 laffer “Four Kings” (4.2/11 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall) built on its lead-in from “Will & Grace” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 8.0 million viewers overall).

Fox was a distant fourth with theatrical “The Hot Chick” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.1million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 6.8/18; NBC, 5.0/13; ABC, 4.1/11; Fox, 2.2/6; WB, 1.0/3; UPN, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 21.0 million; ABC, 14.5 million; NBC, 10.8 million; Fox, 5.1 million; WB, 2.2 million; UPN, 2.0 million.

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