‘Jersey,’ ‘Wipeout’ big Thursday

Unscripted shows kick off new year with highs

Auds flocked to Thursday’s top scripted programs — CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” — but the night’s most eye-opening returns came via unscripted skeins.

MTV’s “Jersey Shore” established a new network record as it returned, while ABC’s winter version of “Wipeout” opened very impressively,

At MTV, the cabler clearly has another ratings Situation on its hands: The third-season premiere of Snooki, the Situation, Pauly D and company averaged a whopping 8.45 million viewers, including 6.5 million viewers 12-34 — both records for an MTV series telecast, according to Nielsen. The 12-34 viewership also is the highest for any series — broadcast or cable — this season.

In most categories, “Jersey” was up 50% or more vs. its second-season opener.

ABC, meanwhile, appears to have solved its problem in Thursday’s leadoff hour, as a snowy version of summer reality hit “Wipeout” averaged a 3.8 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 11.69 million viewers overall to win the hour in all key under-50 demos.

In achieving its second best 18-49 score to date and its largest overall audience for any telecast, “Wipeout” logged ABC’s best result for a regular series in the 8 o’clock hour since the series premiere of “FlashForward” in September 2009.

CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” (4.4/13 in 18-49, 13.98m) and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (4.2/11, 11.64m) were the night’s top draws among adults 18-49, with the latter gleaning a few thousand more in the demo than “Jersey Shore.”

CBS’ “The Mentalist” (3.1/9, 14.88m) led all shows on the night in total viewers. The Eye won the night in total viewers, but ABC prevailed narrowly in 18-49 with a season-high 3.6 rating/10 share.

Thursdays will become more competitive on Jan. 20 when Fox’s “American Idol” makes its debut on the night and NBC rolls out its six-comedy lineup, including the bow of “Perfect Couples” at 8:30 p.m. and the season preem of “Parks and Recreation” at 9:30.Michael Schneider contributed to this report.

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