ABC's 'Stone' solid in bow

Auds found ABC’s “Lost” on its new night Thursday as the drama returned to action with strong numbers.

The Alphabet dominated Thursday overall as a “Lost” clip show won its hour and new drama “Eli Stone” debuted to winning numbers in closing out the night. Results were welcome news for ABC, which has struggled while its other scripted hits sit on the sidelines during the writer strike.

According to Nielsen estimates that include same-night DVR playback, “Lost” averaged a 6.7 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 16.14 million viewers overall, doubling its closest pursuer in the demo (Fox’s “Don’t Forget the Lyrics”) and outperforming all 16 segs of the show to air last year.

“Lost” continues to draw among the most balanced auds of any primetime show, earning a 17 share among women 18-49 and a 16 among men of the same age. It also did the same 17 share in adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.

“Lost” did come in 13% below its most recent season preem in 18-49 (a 7.7/19 in September 2006), but it’s worth noting that in the 16-plus months since then, Nielsen’s sample of DVR homes has shot up from about 10% to currently more than 22%. This means that now even more fans of the show — already the biggest ratings gainer in same-week DVR playback a year ago — may opt to watch episodes in the days following its premiere.

The serialized and densely plotted “Lost,” much like Fox vet “24,” isn’t the kind of show that figures to gain many viewers at this stage of its run, but ABC did a good job of reintroducing key plot points to viewers prior to the season preem. A clip show at 8 dominated the time period (5.0/13, 13.16m) one night after a repeat of last May’s season finale fared pretty well on Wednesday night.

“Lost” is airing its eight completed episodes in the timeslot usually occupied by “Grey’s Anatomy.” If the writers strike ends fairly soon and production resumes on all shows, the Alphabet will have a choice to make regarding where to sked “Lost” when the top-rated “Grey’s Anatomy” returns in spring.

As for “Eli Stone,” the ABC Studios drama starring Jonny Lee Miller as a San Francisco lawyer who just may be a prophet averaged a solid but unspectacular 4.0 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 11.15 million viewers overall. It beat out the second half of a two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC as well as a repeat of “Without a Trace” on CBS but declined by 2 shares in its second half-hour.

“Eli” will have firstrun scripted competish this week as NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle” debuts in the slot normally held by “ER.”

Elsewhere Thursday, Fox ran second in demos thanks to its nonscripted combo of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (3.1/8 in 18-49, 10.56m) and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (3.3/8, 10.07m).

NBC’s “Apprentice” hit a season low (3.2/8 in 18-49, 7.82m) opposite “Lost,” although it edged ahead of “Eli Stone” in 18-49 in its final half-hour (10:30 to 11).

In its first original episode in seven weeks, CW’s “Supernatural” performed pretty well (1.3/3 in 18-49, 2.95m) despite the addition of “Lost” in the timeslot, retaining 81% of its 18-49 lead-in from “Smallville” (1.6/4, 3.81m). “Supernatural” seemed to benefit from the absence of femme-fave “Grey’s Anatomy” in the slot, as the CW drama matched or set season highs in all key female demos.

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