×

The numbers don’t lie, and it looks like CBS may have another hit crime drama on its hands.

After nearly 25 million viewers sampled it following one of the year’s biggest football games last week, new Eye series “Numbers” opened impressively Friday in its regular slot, posting the best Nielsens for any skein on any net on the night this season.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “Numbers” averaged a big 4.9 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 15.2 million viewers overall in the 10 o’clock hour. Despite airing on less-watched Friday, this makes “Numbers” the No. 5-rated new drama bow in its regular slot this season — behind only “Desperate Housewives,” “CSI: NY,” “Lost” and “Medium.”

While ABC’s timeslot rival “20/20” held up well Friday (prelim second-place 3.4/10 in 18-49, 9.7 million), NBC’s first-year medical procedural “Medical Investigation” was hit hard (prelim 2.5/7, 6.8 million). “Numbers” roughly doubled “MI” in demos, sending the latter to its lowest firstrun scores to date.

“Numbers,” the third Los Angeles-based crime series to bow in the Friday-at-10 slot on CBS in as many seasons, reps the Eye’s best showing here since “Nash Bridges” in October 2000. And no regular 10 o’clock Friday program on any net has done this well since NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” in April 2003.

“Numbers” exhibited broad appeal, winning easily among men, women and adults 25-54 (6.4/16) and adults 50-plus (9.4/19) but also prevailing in younger categories in both genders.

The Rob Morrow/David Krumholtz series got a boost in its Friday bow from a repeat “CSI” lead-in that led the 9 o’clock hour in key categories (prelim 3.5/10 in 18-49, 12.7 million). “JAG” returns to the Eye lineup this week, making it more of a challenge for “Numbers” to hold up at 10.

Also this week, “Third Watch” returns to the NBC lineup. Although “Dateline” performed well Friday in its place at 9 (3.4/10 in 18-49, 11.4 million), “MI” might benefit more from its regular dramatic lead-in.

In success, “Numbers” would give CBS another strong 10 o’clock crime drama performer, helping provide a nice lead-in to the late local news for its affils. Net already does well with “CSI: Miami” on Monday and “Without a Trace” on Thursday, and first-year entry “CSI: NY” has greatly improved the net’s fortunes on Wednesday.