ABC drama bests CBS' 'Eleventh Hour'

ABC’s “Life on Mars” bested CBS’ “Eleventh Hour” in Thursday’s showdown of high-profile premieres based on British skeins, while a pair of comedy additions gave NBC a boost.

The Eye prevailed on the night thanks to winning perfs from “Survivor” and the season preem of “CSI,” but its “Eleventh Hour” retained less than half of the crime drama’s hefty lead-in to place third at 10 o’clock. For NBC, meanwhile, the first of three Thursday “Saturday Night Live” specs scored nicely, and the bow of “Kath & Kim” looked pretty good.

According to Nielsen, “CSI” (7.1 rating/17 share in adults 18-49, 23.49 million viewers overall) was easily the night’s top program in both 18-49 and 25-54 (9.1/20) while drawing the largest overall aud for any telecast this season. Though down from last year’s premiere, it was the show’s best delivery since then and also repped the latest CBS crime procedural to start the season especially strong.

“CSI” logged its first 18-49 victory over ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.6/13 in 18-49, 14.80m), which took a hit opposite premieres on other nets. Hour also included a strong delivery for NBC’s “The Office” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 9.25m), which won its slot in 18-34 (5.8/16) and seemed energized by the arrival of “Kath & Kim” at 8:30 (3.2/9, 11.37m) and “SNL” at 9:30 (5.1/12, 10.85m).

“Kath” built on its lead-in from “My Name Is Earl” (second-place 2.8/8 in 18-49, 7.17m) by 14% in 18-49 and led its timeslot among adults 18-34 (3.3/10).

In Thursday’s 10 o’clock drama battle, ABC’s “Life on Mars” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 11.33m) won out in demos over CBS’ “Eleventh Hour” (3.2/9, 11.37m), though both lagged NBC’s “ER” (3.9/11, 9.41m), which had its best perf in nearly a year.

“Mars” delivered the highest 18-49 score for a premiering drama on any net this season, retaining two-thirds of its demo lead-in from “Grey’s” — a significant improvement over “Big Shots” a year ago. “Eleventh Hour,” on the other hand, held less of its lead-in than recent slot occupants “Without a Trace” and “Shark.”

Fox was above average even with a fourth-place finish with its opening game of baseball’s National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers (2.5/7 in 18-49, 7.74m). And despite the tougher competish, CW was surprisingly up week to week with “Smallville” (1.6/4, 4.12m) and “Supernatural” (1.3/3, 3.15m).

Overall, CBS won in 18-49 (4.9/13), 25-54 (6.2/15) and total viewers (16.1 million), while NBC moved up to tie ABC for second in 18-49 (4.0/10) with its best non-sports Thursday average since March. Peacock also led in 18-34 (3.9/12).

CBS, meanwhile, remained firmly in control of Friday, as “Ghost Whisperer” (prelim 2.6/9 in 18-49, 9.4 million) and “Numbers” (prelim 2.2/7, 8.0 million) were both up a tick vs. their premieres of the previous week. In between, “The Ex List” dipped slightly (prelim 1.9/6 in 18-49, 5.7 million) but still narrowly led its hour in 18-49 over ABC’s rising “Supernanny” (prelim 1.8/6 in 18-49, 5.0 million).

NBC, whose “Crusoe” joins the night this week, saw weak scores for “America’s Toughest Jobs” at 8 (prelim 1.2/4, 4.0 million) and “Life” at 10 (prelim 1.4/4, 4.9 million).

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