Procedural's premiere helps lift CBS to win

CBS prevailed on the first true Thursday of the season behind “Survivor” and a strong premiere for “CSI,” though the net’s new “Eleventh Hour” didn’t do much closing out the night. ABC, meanwhile, saw a solid bow for “Life on Mars,” and NBC made some noise with its “Saturday Night Live” special and the premiere of “Kath & Kim.”

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, CBS opened the night a winner with “Survivor” (4.3 rating/12 share in adults 18-49, 13.3 million viewers overall) and remained on top at 9 o’clock in most key categories with the season premiere of “CSI” (7.0/17 in 18-49, 23.0 million viewers overall), which was down from last year’s opener but was easily the night’s top program in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. At 10, though, new Jerry Bruckheimer series “Eleventh Hour” settled for a third-place 3.3/9 in 18-49 and 11.6 million viewers overall, retaining less than half of its “CSI” lead-in.

At ABC, “Ugly Betty” remained low at 8 (third-place 2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall), but the net moved up to second place at 9 with “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.5/13 in 18-49, 14.5 million viewers overall), which was well below its usual level. The net’s “Life on Mars” showed some spunk at 10 o’clock (3.8/10 in 18-49, 11.6 million viewers overall), challenging for or leading in many key categories and logging the best scores for the premiere of a new drama this season.

NBC had a solid night, starting with improved numbers in the 8 o’clock slot for “My Name Is Earl” (2.7/8 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall) and a nice bow for “Kath & Kim” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall), which placed second in its 8:30 slot and built on “Earl” in all key categories. “The Office” remained potent at 9 (4.6/11 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall), placing third in 18-49 but first in 18-34. The first of three primetime “Saturday Night Live” specials dealing primarily with the presidential campaign drew an impressive 5.0/12 in 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers overall, building on “Office” by 9% in 18-49 and by 18% in total viewers. The stronger lead-in helped “ER” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), which won the 10 o’clock hour in 18-49 with its best result since last November.

Reliable numbers weren’t available for Fox’s coverage of the opening game of baseball’s National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Fox averaged a 2.1 rating/5 share in adults 18-49 and 6.5 million viewers overall on its affiliates from 8 to 11 p.m., with the game expected to rise about half a point in the nationals.

CW’s combo of “Smallville” (1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) and “Supernatural” (1.4/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall) held up well, rising a bit week to week in its target 18-34 demo despite increased competition.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 4.9/13; ABC, 4.0/10; NBC, 3.9/10; Fox, 1.9/5; Univision, 1.8/5; CW, 1.5/4.

In total viewers: CBS, 16.0 million; ABC, 11.5 million; NBC, 8.8 million; Fox, 6.2 million; Univision, 4.5 million; CW, 3.6 million.

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