'Grey's Anatomy' tops 'CSI' in 18-49

On the opening night of May sweeps, ABC eked out a Thursday night primetime ratings victory over CBS in 18-49, thanks to fresh episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” ABC also delivered a small reality check to promising NBC newcomer “Southland,” knocking it to second place at10 p.m.

“Grey’s” was the top-rated program for the night, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, drawing a 4.9 rating/13 share with 13.2 million viewers overall. Its timeslot rival, CBS’ “CSI,” actually had 14.5 million tuning in but settled for a 3.6/9 on a night that saw TV audiences spreading the wealth thanks to first-run episodes almost across the board.

An easy victory at 8 p.m. for “Survivor” (3.5/11, 11.4m) helped CBS snag the most viewers for the night. ABC plugged in a “Grey’s Anatomy” rerun (1.5/5, 5.1m) – the only repeat any of the broadcast nets aired Thursday – to fill the gap created when “In the Motherhood” and “Samantha Who?” were pulled from the schedule. The return next week of “Ugly Betty” should begin to shore up that hour for the Alphabet net.

“Southland” (2.5/7, 8.0m) won its timeslot a week ago, but facing a new “Private Practice” (3.4/10, 9.4m), the NBC cop drama dropped 16% in overall viewers. The performance was still good enough for NBC to play spoiler against CBS and freshman “Harper’s Island” (2.0/6, 7.5m).

“Parks and Recreation” (2.3/7, 5.2m) continues to resemble a fit for NBC at 8:30 p.m., though in contrast to the previous week, the Amy Poehler starrer trailed lead-in “My Name Is Earl” (2.2/7, 5.5m) in overall viewers. Sister sitcom “The Office” (3.7/10, 7.2 million) edged “CSI” in 18-49 ratings and share, but to illustrate the difference in their demos, “CSI” had twice as many viewers. NBC’s “30 Rock” (3.1/8, 6.3m) showed its usual dip following “The Office.”

Fox challenged NBC for Thursday’s bronze medal before settling for fourth place in 18-49. At 8 p.m., hourlong “Bones” (2.2/7, 8.2m) matched the Peacock’s leadoff sitcoms in demo rating and share while providing more viewers overall. At 9 p.m., “Hell’s Kitchen (3.0/8, 6.8m) trailed “The Office” but snuck past “30 Rock” in the second half of the hour.

Rounding out the night, the CW offered original episodes of “Smallville” (1.3/4, 3.1m) and “Supernatural” (1.1/3, 2.8m).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC 3.2/9, CBS 3.1/9, NBC 2.7/8, Fox 2.6/7, Univision 1.6/4, CW 1.2/3.

In total viewers: CBS 11.1 million, ABC 9.2 million, Fox 7.5 million, NBC 6.7 million, Univision 4.1 million, CW 2.9 million.

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