‘CSI’ is most-watched show of night

Fox won the night Thursday behind the strength of “American Idol” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” while CBS remained competitive with solid performances from its crime dramas. NBC saw the return of several series that were on par with pre-writers strike averages.

According to preliminary affiliate-based estimates from Nielsen, “Idol,” in which Michael Johns was the latest contestant to say goodbye, averaged a 6.8 rating/19 share in adults 18-49, with 19.5 million viewers overall. Also at 8 o’clock, CBS’ “Survivor” (3.8/11, 11.6 million viewers overall) was on par with last week, as was NBC’s “My Name Is Earl” (2.8/8, 6.3 million viewers overall). ABC offered up two hours of “Desperate Housewives” reruns, with the first episode posting an anemic 1.1/3, 4.3 million viewers overall, and the second an improved 1.8/5, 6.0 million.

At 8:30, NBC’s Emmy-winning “30 Rock” (2.7/7, 5.7 million viewers overall) performed on par with pre-strike episodes.

Even though “Housewives” performed better in the 9 o’clock slot, it was still no match for the other three networks. CBS won the hour with “CSI” (5.7/14, 19.9 million viewers overall), which was the most watched show of the night, slightly surpassing “Idol.” A new episode of “The Office” (4.8/12, 9.2 million viewers overall) came in second for NBC, defeating a post-“Idol” installment of “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” (4.2/10, 10.9 million viewers overall) on Fox for the half-hour.

Back for its final run on NBC, a new episode of “Scrubs” earned a 3.4/8, 6.5 million viewers overall at 9:30.

At 10 o’clock, CBS’ “Without a Trace” (3.9/11, 14.6 million viewers overall) continued its winning ways, defeating the first post-strike episode of NBC’s hospital drama “ER” (3.1/8, 7.5 million viewers overall). Coming off its season lows last week, ABC’s “Eli Stone” (1.9/5, 5.8 million viewers overall) improved slightly but still came in third.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 5.4/14; CBS, 4.5/12; NBC, 3.4/9; Univision, 1.7/4; ABC, 1.6/4; CW, 0.7/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 15.4 million; Fox, 15.2 million; NBC, 7.2 million; ABC, 5.4 million; Univision, 3.5 million; CW, 2.0 million.

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