Reality vet premiere propels network

The season premiere of CBS’ reality stalwart “Big Brother” was strong enough to give the network a narrow victory Thursday when millions of sports fans were tuned to ESPN in the 9 o’clock hour to see where LeBron James was taking his services for the next few years.

“Big Brother” (2.4 rating/9 share in the 18-49 demo, 7.3 million viewers) performed slightly better than last summer’s premiere and was the highest-rated show of the night. The most-watched program for the evening, however, was 8 p.m. competitor “Wipeout” on ABC, which drew a 2.4/8 and 7.8 million viewers.

CBS also offered repeats of procedurals “CSI” (1.4/4, 6.8m) and “The Mentalist” (1.6/5, 8.5 m), the latter winning 10 o’clock handily.

Following “Wipeout,” the Alphabet, which telecast a night of originals, saw “Rookie Blue” (1.6/5, 6.3m) drop 11% from last week but still defeat both CBS and NBC. Fox won the hour with an installment of “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.1/6, 5.9m) following an episode of “Glee” (13/ 4, 3.8m)

ABC News division’s “Boston Med,” a look at the inner workings of three different hospitals, fell 15% from a week ago with a 1.1 /4, 5m at 10 p.m..

NBC offered three hours of “Community” reruns and CW ran “The Vampire Diaries” and “Moonlight.”

Numbers will come in later today to see how many viewed the ESPN special “The Decision,” where James announced he would be playing for the Miami Heat.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 1.8/6; ABC, 1.7/5; Fox, 1.7/5; Univision, 1.6/5; NBC, 0.9/6; CW, 0.5/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 7.5 million; ABC, 6.4 million; Fox, 4.9 million; Univision, 3.8 million; NBC, 2.2 million; CW, 1.3 million.

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