‘ER’ loses demo race to ‘Trace’

CBS' 'Without' takes medical drama's crown

It took more than 11 years, but another entertainment series has bested an original episode of NBC’s “ER” in television’s key young-adult demo.

Fourth-year CBS crime drama “Without a Trace,” which has gradually closed the demo gap between the rival Thursday-at-10 series while routinely winning the hour in total viewers, broke through last week by topping the medical skein across the board.

According to final Nielsen national estimates for Thursday, “Without a Trace” swept “ER” in adults 18-49 (6.8/17 to 6.3/16), adults 25-54 (8.3/19 to 7.3/17), persons 12-34 (4.5/14 to 4.1/13) and total viewers (21.25 million to 14.15m). ABC’s “Primetime” remains a nonfactor in the hour (1.9/5, 5.71m), falling to fourth (behind baseball on Fox).

Thursday result marks the first time a regularly skedded entertainment series has defeated an original episode of “ER” in adults 18-49 since its premiere in the fall of 1994. “ER” was TV’s top-rated drama in 18-49 for each of its first 10 seasons.

“Trace” was up week to week and delivered its best demos since March. Compared to the third week of last season, the CBS drama was down 1% in 18-49; “ER” was off by 24%.

“ER” is now at a decisive disadvantage when it comes to lead-in, as “CSI” remains hot for CBS in the 9 o’clock hour (9.8/24, 28.85m), down 3% vs. last year), while “The Apprentice 4” hit or flirted with series lows for a regular episode (4.5/11, 9.90m), down 42% year to year.

The “ER” 234-episode firstrun-episode winning streak in 18-49 is believed to be a record; among current skeins, fifth-year CBS drama “CSI: Miami” has yet to lose its Monday-at-10 hour to a regular entertainment series, although it was tied once by NBC’s “Average Joe” and has been beaten by ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”

Elsewhere on Thursday, “Survivor: Guatemala” (6.3/17 in 18-49, 17.92m) was up and easily led at 8 over NBC laffers “Joey” (3.0/8, 7.18m) and “Will & Grace” (3.7/10, 8.44m).

UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 5.96m) declined a bit more in its third airing, placing fifth in 18-49 and fourth in 18-34 (2.1/7). Still, it remains the net’s top-rated comedy.

The WB’s “Smallville” again looked good at 8 (2.6/7 in 18-49, 5.84), beating ABC’s “Alias” (2.4/7, 7.39m) in all under-50 categories. And at 9, the Frog’s “Everwood” picked up some in its second week (1.7/4, 4.03m) while ABC’s “Night Stalker” declined (2.2/5, 5.92m).

Friday saw another winning effort from new 8 o’clock CBS drama “Ghost Whisperer” (2.8/10 in 18-49, 10.9 million), and the Eye also won at 9 with “Threshold” (2.4/7, 8.4 million) and at 10 with “Numbers” (3.2/9, 10.8 million), all according to prelim Nielsen nationals.

New ABC laffer “Hot Properties” (prelim 2.2/6 in 18-49, 6.1 million) placed third in 18-49 at 9:30, but it did build on its “Hope & Faith” lead-in (prelim 1.9/6, 5.7 million). Alphabet scored at 10 with a “20/20” special report on the real estate market (prelim 3.0/9 in 18-49, 8.5 million).

NBC didn’t do much with a two-hour “Three Wishes” (prelim 1.9/6, 6.8 million); it improved some but remained well behind the pack at 10 with a repeat of “Law & Order: CI” (prelim 2.3/7, 7.2 million).

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