Net seems big improvement over 'Life on Mars'

With Barbara Walters filling in the 10 p.m. timeslot and earning substantial viewer increases over “Life on Mars,” the British import recently put on hiatus until January, ABC scored a close win Thursday night over CBS, according to early estimates from Nielsen.

ABC scored a 4.1 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 for the evening (with 12.2 million viewers overall), narrowly defeating CBS (3.8/10 in 18-49, 13.6 million viewers overall).

The Eye’s “Survivor: Gabon” handily won the 8 o’clock hour (4.0/11 in 18-49, 12.7 million viewers overall) defeating ABC’s “Ugly Betty” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall). Both shows were on par from Nov. 20, the most recent Thursday with new programming. Thanksgiving offered mostly repeats or specials.

“My Name Is Earl” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall) and “Kath and Kim” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall) came in third for NBC, defeating a repeat of Fox’s hourlong “Kitchen Nightmares” (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.7 million viewers overall).

At 9 o’clock, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.5/14 in 18-49, 15.1 million viewers overall) scored the best demo numbers of the night but CBS’ “CSI” (4.8/12 in 18-49, 17.3 million viewers overall) was the most watched show. Both “Grey’s” and “CSI” showed a 9% demo erosion from Nov. 20.

NBC’s “The Office” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall) was the Peacock’s most-watched show of the night while Emmy winner “30 Rock” earned 3.4/8 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall. Both shows posted similar numbers from two weeks ago. The second hour of Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.0 million viewers overall) finished fourth.

Viewers were fascinated by “Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008″ (4.2/11 in 18-49, 13.2 million viewers overall), which marked a major improvement for ABC over “Life on Mars” at 10 o’clock. Demo was up 59% and an increase of 5.5 million viewers overall. Only a handful of those new viewers came from NBC and CBS as second place “ER” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 8.2 million viewers overall) and third place “Eleventh Hour” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 10.9 million viewers overall), respectively, were on par from Nov. 20.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.1/11; CBS, 3.8/10; NBC, 3.1/8; Fox, 1.7/4; CW, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 13.6 million; ABC, 12.2 million; NBC, 7.1 million; Fox, 3.9 million; CW, 2.1 million.

Filed Under:

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