ABC's 'Practice,' CW's 'Diaries' finish well

Although ABC closed the gap thanks to a potent performance by the season finale of “Private Practice,” CBS has won for a third straight Thursday in the May sweep behind its lineup of “Survivor,” “CSI” and “The Mentalist.”

CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” also looked good in its first-season finale on a night when ESPN was expected to challenge for the lead in several categories with its sixth and final game of an NBA conference semifinal playoff game between Boston and Cleveland.

Looking at the preliminary Nielsen estimates, CBS reality vet “Survivor” dominated Thursday’s opening hour (3.9/12 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall) and was narrowly the night’s top program among adults 18-49. It was followed by “CSI” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 13.3 million viewers overall), which continues to track well below last year’s pace but still earned a solid second-place finish among adults 25-54 (4.0/10) and easily led its hour in total viewers. And at 10, “The Mentalist” built to a 3.1/9 in 18-49 and 14.6 million viewers overall, placing a close second in 18-49 and winning in 25-54 and total viewers.

At ABC, “FlashForward” continues to play out its remaining episodes to miniscule numbers (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.8 million viewers overall), including a possible seventh-place 18-49 finish when national numbers come in for all programs in the 8 o’clock hour. The net then picked things up at 9 o’clock with “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 10.9 million viewers overall), which led its hour in 18-49 by 3 shares over CBS and NBC. And at 10, the season finale of “Private Practice” hit a three-month high (3.2/9 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), edging past “The Mentalist” in 18-49 and dominating its scripted competition among auds under 35; “Practice” came in about 10% below last year’s season-ender, but that’s not bad considering its “Grey’s” lead-in was off by an even bigger margin.

NBC’s opening-hour comedies, “Community” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall) and “Parks and Recreation” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall), were in line with the previous week’s delivery for a third-place finish among the English-language broadcasters. They were followed by “The Office” (3.4/10 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall), which ran a solid second in 18-49 at 9 o’clock, and “30 Rock” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall), which placed third among the broadcasters at 9:30.

Fox stayed in the game but was nothing flashy with its dramas “Bones” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall) and “Fringe” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 6.0 million viewers overall), both of which edged up a tick week to week.

CW’s season finale of top show “The Vampire Diaries” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 3.5 million viewers overall) grew vs. the previous week and was 1 share out of the 8 o’clock lead among adults 18-34 (2.0/7) while edging past “Survivor” to lead all nets in females 12-34 (2.6/9). And at 9, the season finale of veteran “Supernatural” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall) wasn’t as competitive, but it too grew week to week.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.3/10; ABC, 2.8/8; Fox, 2.4/7; NBC, 2.2/6; Univision, 1.6/5; CW, 1.5/4.

In total viewers: CBS, 13.6 million; ABC, 8.3 million; Fox, 7.5 million; NBC, 4.7 million;

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