NBC cruises Thursday

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

NBC, boosted by super-sized season finales of laffers “Friends” and “Will & Grace,” captured the final Thursday of the May sweep among young adults, posting the biggest winning margin on a Thursday for any network since the Olympics in February 2002, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen. Net doubled the 18-49 score of second-place CBS.

From 8-9:10 p.m., “Friends” averaged roughly an 11.7/35 in adults 18-49, the highest rating for a primetime telecast since the Academy Awards and the best for the laffer since Jan. 30. “Will & Grace” followed by averaging about a 10.5/26, its highest result since November. “ER” closed out the night with an easy victory (10.4/27 in adults 18-49, 21.7 million viewers overall).

CBS was led by “CSI” (8.0/20 in adults 18-49, 23.3 million viewers overall), which was a strong second to NBC’s comedies in most measures and led its hour in total viewers. And at 10, “Without a Trace” finished its rookie season with solid numbers (5.1/13 in adults 18-49, 15.8 million viewers overall).

Although reliable nationals for ABC’s coverage of its NBA playoff game were unavailable, the net appears headed for a solid third-place showing on the night — well above its season average on Thursdays.

Fox was well off the pace with a repeat of its “Married With Children” reunion spec (1.7/5 in adults 18-49) and newsmag “The Pulse” (1.5/4).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: NBC, 11.1/30; CBS, 5.5/15; ABC, 3.2/9; Fox, 1.6/4/

In total viewers: NBC led with 22.6 million.

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