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‘Survivor’ return sparks CBS

Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

CBS delivered its best Thursday night numbers of the season last night, as the return of “Survivor” and a powerful perf by “CSI” lifted the net to an easy victory, according to preliminary nationals from Nielsen.

Off the air for more than two months, “Survivor” returned in a big way with the start of its Palau edition: Its 9 rating/23 share and 23.6 million viewers overall more than doubled second-place NBC in the hour and was even higher than the Thursday premiere of “Survivor: All Stars” last February.

“CSI” followed at 9 with its best ratings since mid-November (10.8/26 in adults 18-49, 30.4 million viewers overall), and “Without a Trace” closed out the night for CBS (6.9/18 in adults 18-49, 21 million viewers overall) with solid results. (Note that because “Survivor” aired until 9:01, and “CSI” from 9:01-10:02 p.m., slight adjustments to averages for the CBS shows are expected in the nationals.)

Second-place NBC was hit hard in the night’s opening hour by “Survivor,” as both “Joey” (4/11 in adults 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall) and “Will & Grace” (4.3/11 in adults 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall) approached firstrun season lows. Both “The Apprentice 3” (7.1/17 in adults 18-49, 15.2 million viewers overall) and “ER” (8.4/21 in adults 18-49, 17.7 million viewers overall) overcame the soft lead-in, though, and were within their normal ratings range.

ABC improved itself with a two-hour Michael Jackson special (3/7 in adults 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall) but this was a far cry from the numbers put up by Martin Bashir’s first documentary of the pop singer in 2003.

And Fox was on par at 8 with “The OC” (3.6/9 in adults 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall) but its first-year 9 o’clock drama “Point Pleasant” (1.5/4 in adults 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) continues to fade.

Preliminary adults 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 8.9/22; NBC, 6.6/16; ABC, 2.6/7; Fox, 2.5/6; UPN, 1.9/5; WB, 0.9/2.

In total viewers: CBS, 25 million; NBC, 14.2 million; ABC, 8.2 million; Fox, 5.7 million; UPN, 5 million; WB, 2.1 million.

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