'CSI' helps network rule over top 20

CBS continues to cook in the early going this season, claiming its second straight week in young-adult demos on the strength of the frame’s top-rated drama, comedy and reality show.

Boosted by the ninth-season preem of “CSI,” the Eye accounted for nine of the top 20 programs among adults 18-49, including at least one on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It also claimed Friday’s top-rated show and won Saturday with college football.

Overall, though, it was a sluggish frame for the broadcasters, as only Univision and MyNetwork improved upon their perfs of a year ago. Week featured the second of three presidential debates, this one airing on Tuesday and thus sidelining the season’s top-rated rookies, Fox’s “Fringe” and CBS’ “The Mentalist.”

According to Nielsen estimates, CBS prevailed in adults 18-49 with a 3.2 rating/9 share, with ABC a solid second (3.0/8) and Fox and NBC tied for third (2.7/8). Univision placed fifth (1.6/4), with TBS the top cabler and running sixth overall (1.2/3).

The Eye also had it over runner-up ABC in both adults 25-54 (4.0/10 vs. 3.6/9) and total viewers (11.0 million vs. 9.6 million). Fox edged past NBC among persons 12-34 (2.1/7 to 2.0/7).

For CBS, “CSI” (7.1 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, 23.48 million viewers overall) easily led its hour in 18-49 and 25-54 while drawing the largest overall aud for any telecast this season. And in 18-49, the net also claimed the week’s highest-rated comedy in “Two and a Half Men” (5.1/12, 14.07m) and reality show in “Survivor” (4.4/12, 13.28m).

Tuesday’s “NCIS” posted its best demo delivery in a year (3.7/10, 16.29m), and Wednesday saw strong perfs from “Criminal Minds” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 16.19m) and “CSI: NY” (4.3/12, 15.87m), which tied as the week’s No. 10 program in 18-49.

“CSI: NY” logged its best demos since February 2007, topping the combined showings in the hour for soph dramas “Dirty Sexy Money” on ABC (2.0/5, 5.85m) and “Lipstick Jungle” on NBC (4.76m).

CBS also dominated Friday with “Ghost Whisperer” (2.7/10 in 18-49, 9.69m), while lead-out “The Ex List” (1.9/6, 5.60m) was on par with its bow and narrowly led its hour in 18-49.

ABC was paced by “Desperate Housewives” (5.9/14 in 18-49, 15.50m) and “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.6/13, 14.80m), which ranked second and third for the frame among 18-49.

In Nielsen data for the first week of the season, “Grey’s Anatomy” showed the largest spike in Nielsen’s “live plus 7-day” data vs. its “live plus same day” average cited earlier. Same-week DVR playback added 1.3 ratings points to its 18-49 average, rising from 7.4 to 8.7.

Among top shows on all nets during premiere week, “Heroes,” “House,” “Fringe” and “The Office” all saw gains of more than 0.8 of a ratings point. “CSI: Miami” saw the largest gain for a CBS show (from 5.2 to 5.8).

Elsewhere for ABC, soph drama “Private Practice” tumbled in its second week back (2.6/7, 7.40m), but the net got a nice bow Thursday from “Life on Mars” (3.7/10, 11.33m) — the top-rated drama premiere of the season among adults 18-49.

NBC was led by “Sunday Night Football” (5.2/13 in 18-49, 13.05m for San Diego-New England) and by a strong score for Thursday’s special “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” (5.1/12, 10.85m).

Thursday all around was up a notch, bookended by gains for “My Name Is Earl” (2.8/8, 7.17m) and “ER” (3.9/11, 9.41m) and also including a nice bow for “Kath & Kim” at 8:30 (3.2/9, 7.52m). “The Office” held strong at 9 (4.8/12, 9.25m), ranking seventh for the week in 18-49 and first among persons 12-34 (4.7/13).

Fox got a huge lift from Sunday’s overtime NFL game between Dallas and Arizona, which drew a whopping 11.4/36 in 18-49 from 7 to 7:44 p.m. Other than that, though, it was a quiet week, with the net led by Wednesday’s “Bones” (3.4/10, 10.56m).

CW, whose Monday dramas were in repeats, was paced by “America’s Next Top Model” (1.8/5, 3.94m), “90210” (1.7/5, 3.12m) and “Smallville” (1.6/4, 4.12m).

MyNetwork drew its best numbers ever for a second straight week with “WWE Smackdown” on Friday (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.45m). Also, “Street Patrol” and “Jail” were on the rise Tuesday and “Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed” had a solid bow Monday.

Fox News was the most-watched cable network in primetime (3.44 million), although rival CNN drew more adults under 50 (912,000 vs. 721,000).

Week’s top cablecast was ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” contest between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints (4.6/12, 10.98m), while TBS had three baseball postseason games in the top 10, led by Friday’s opener between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Devil Rays (2.3/8, 6.69m).

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