Bush speech hits nets on Thursday

'Kid' helps put NBC on top in key demos

HOLLYWOOD — NBC and CBS put up more impressive Thursday night numbers, although both seemed to be sacked a bit by President Bush’s address to the nation, which interrupted the primetime skeds for nearly half an hour.

Ratings for the evening’s top shows, including “Friends,” “CSI” and “ER” were lower than usual — likely due in part to Bush’s address, which began at 9 in most of the country.

NBC won the night in key demos, and has regained the sweeps lead in adults 18-49 through 10 nights (roughly 4.5 to Fox’s 3.7). The Peacock also won Friday behind “Law & Order: SVU” and the two-hour finale of “America’s Most Talented Kid.”

CBS eked out a Thursday victory in total viewers and continues to dominate by that measure for the month.

In the NBC-CBS battle on Thursday, the Eye was aided by the late starts for the 10 o’clock dramas: The lowest-rated portion of the CBS sked was not included in the nightly averages (4.1/12 in adults 18-49 from 11 to 11:27 for “Without a Trace”) while the highest-rated portion of the NBC sked (a 9.3/27 for the 11-11:19 portion of “ER”) was also excluded.

“ER” was the No. 1 program in 18-49 for a second straight Thursday (9.0/25) and CBS’ “CSI” (8.4/21) was on top as usual in total viewers (22.67m); shows cannibalized each other somewhat by overlapping for 18 minutes due to the Bush speech.

NBC also received strong scores from “Friends” (8.9/27 in A18-49) and “Will & Grace” (8.5/21), while the Eye’s “Survivor” remained a solid No. 2 in 18-49 from 8 to 9 (6.5/19).

UPN was fourth in 18-49 with “WWE Smackdown” (2.0/5), while the WB got a bump from a 90-minute edition of “Jamie Kennedy Experiment” (1.7/5 in both 18-49 and 18-34).

Nielsen didn’t issue broadcast-net ratings for the Bush address (roughly 9 to 9:25), but Fox News Channel (4.86 million) was the clear cable choice, well ahead of CNN (1.49m).

On Friday, according to Nielsen prelims, the finale of “America’s Most Talented Kid” (3.2/11 in A18-49, 10.0 m) won from 8 to 10, while the net’s “Law & Order: SVU” (4.6/14 in A18-49, 13.6m) led as usual at 10.

ABC ran second in all half-hours in 18-49 with two hours of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.8/10, 9.4m) and “20/20” (2.8/9, 9.3m).

Fox did OK with “Big Momma’s House” (2.2/8 in 18-49), while CBS struggled with “Star Search” and the “Hack” finale (both 1.5/5).

A repeat of “Gladiator” gave ABC Saturday in 18-49 (2.4/8), as it built throughout the evening and tied in the final hour with NBC’s repeat of “Law & Order: SVU” (3.1/10).

CBS, with a competitive score from a “Price is Right” spec at 8 (second-place 1.7/7 in adults 18-49), won the night in total viewers despite fourth-place finishes in 18-49 and 25-54.

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