Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

The Thursday before the start of the May sweeps was a quiet one in the ratings race, with ABC prevailing easily despite some low-end results from “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “Grey’s Anatomy” (8.5 rating/22 share in adults 18-49, 20.9 million viewers overall) was the night’s top draw in all key categories, beating CBS, NBC and Fox combined among young adults. The Alphabet also won at 10 o’clock in most demos with “October Road” (4.2/12 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall), but started the evening slowly with “Ugly Betty” (3.0/9 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall), which produced its lowest score to date for an original episode.

At CBS, “Survivor: Fiji” (4.4/13 in 18-49, 13.2 million viewers overall) remained in control of the opening hour), leading into a second-place finish at 9 for a repeat of “CSI” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall). At 10, “Shark” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) retained most of its lead-in, placing third in demos but first in total viewers.

NBC was led by “ER” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall), which matched its pevious firstrun low of the prior week but rallied to tie for the 18-49 lead in its second half-hour. “My Name Is Earl” was below par at 8 (3.0/10 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall), while “The Office” was a repeat at 8:30 (3.0/9 in 18-49, 6.3 million viewers overall). In the 9 o’clock hour, an original “30 Rock” was down week to week (2.4/6 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), while a new “Scrubs” at 9:30 (2.9/7 in 18-49, 5.6 million viewers overall) was up a bit.

Fox ran second in most categories at 8 with “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (3.2/10 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall) but was not competitive at 9 with “Trading Spouses” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 5.2/15; CBS, 3.6/10; NBC, 3.1/9; Fox, 2.5/7; Univision, 1.8/5; CW, 1.6/4.

In total viewers: ABC, 13.4 million; CBS, 12.7 million; Fox, 7.2 million; NBC, 7.1 million; Univision, 4.0 million; CW, 3.8 million.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more