Networks get solid start thanks to dramas

CBS and ABC are the early leaders in the November sweep following a rather uneventful start to the ratings period Thursday and Friday.

The Alphabet edged out the Eye among adults 18-49 on Thursday thanks to an expanded episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” and CBS rolled on lightly watched Friday, with each of the net’s dramas capturing their hours in demos.

Same-day ratings for all the nets remain down year to year, meanwhile, due at least in part to Nielsen’s national sample of homes with DVRs more than doubling to nearly 21%.

Looking at Thursday, “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.1 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, 19.31 million viewers overall) was the night’s top show in key demos, opening up its largest advantage of the season over CBS drama “CSI” (5.7/14 in 18-49, 19.06m) and also beating the crime drama in total viewers for the first time this fall. “Grey’s” benefited from airing until 10:07 p.m., peaking in those final seven minutes and finishing with its best overall averages since its season preem.

NBC’s “The Office” remained potent at 9 (4.5/11 in 18-49, 8.36m), but the net dropped off at 9:30 with “Scrubs” (3.7/9, 6.58m).

CBS carried the night’s opening hour with “Survivor: China” (4.9/13 in 18-49, 14.44m), which surged to best-since-premiere scores and easily defeated ABC’s “Ugly Betty” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.90m) and NBC’s hourlong “My Name Is Earl” (3.2/9, 7.30m).

And at 10, CBS’ “Without a Trace” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 14.58m) held a slim demo edge on NBC’s “ER” (3.8/10, 9.15m), with “ER” logging its best score since February and “Trace” its best since its season preem. ABC’s “Big Shots” remained third (3.1/8, 7.32m from 10:07 to 11 p.m.).

Fox was a distant fourth on the night but was the only net to improve year to year, averaging a 2.5/6 in 18-49 and 8.56 million viewers overall with two celebrity editions of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.” CW’s “Smallville” (1.8/5, 4.38m) was on the low end of its range, but “Supernatural” (1.3/3, 3.24m) held up better, hitting season highs in some categories.

In prelim results for Friday, “Ghost Whisperer” (2.5/9 in 18-49, 9.1 million), “Moonlight” (2.1/7, 7.6 million) and “Numbers” (2.3/7, 9.2 million) each won their hours in 18-49 and other categories for CBS.

Best news for the Eye is at 9 o’clock, where “Moonlight” again held off drama rivals “Women’s Murder Club” on ABC (1.9/6, 9.5 million) and “Friday Night Lights” on NBC (1.8/5, 5.5 million) in 18-49. “Murder” won the hour, and was the night’s top show, in total viewers.

Fox’s “America’s Next Great Band” isn’t looking so hot after falling even more in its third outing (prelim 1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million).

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