ABC capped its seasonlong Thursday turnaround in style last week, with the finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” powering the net to its fourth demo victory in as many tries on the key night during the May sweep.
A solid second-place finish from “Ugly Betty” and a dominant showing by the expanded 75-minute finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” was enough to carry ABC in every demo from teens to adults 25-54. CBS was a force on the night too thanks to “CSI” and a Bob Barker spec, as the Eye inched ahead to win in total viewers.
For ABC, the move of “Grey’s Anatomy” to the key advertiser night of Thursday last fall was a gamble that paid off, as the Alphabet went from an afterthought to the hottest net on Thursday for the first time in decades.
CBS was a close second in 18-49 on the night for the season and first in 25-54 and total viewers, although it fell by more than 20% year to year in various categories.
Looking at the final Thursday of the season, “Grey’s Anatomy” (9.1/23 in 18-49, 22.57 million viewers overall) rolled from 9 to 10:15 p.m., down 8% in rating but up 1 share point vs. its two-hour conclusion on a Monday a year ago. It finishes the season as the night’s No. 1 program.
Also for ABC, “Ugly Betty” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 10.50m) closed its successful rookie season with second-place results at 8, while a special “Lost” clipshow filled out the night (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.12m from 10:15 to 11).
At CBS, “Bob Barker: 50 Years on Television” (3.2/10 in 18-49, 14.32m) placed third in 18-49, a close second in 25-54 and easily won the 8 o’clock hour in total viewers. It was followed by “CSI” (6.2/16 in 18-49, 20.45m), which was down by 25% vs. its finale of a year ago, when the series finale of “Will & Grace” was its primary competition.
NBC won the night’s opening hour among young adults with “The Office” (3.9/12 in 18-49, 7.88m), which racked up the net’s best showing in the timeslot in 12 weeks. Third-year laffer was especially strong in men 18-34 (4.6/17).
Following the season finale of “Scrubs” from 9 to 10 (third-place 2.8/7 in 18-49, 5.28m), the 13th season finale of “ER” ran third for its slot (3.6/10, 9.51m). Medical drama tumbled 49% from its season finale score of a year ago, when it had a much stronger lead-in from “Will & Grace.”
Fox was not a factor with the net preem of “The Day After Tomorrow” (1.5/4, 4.20m from 8 to 10:30).
On Friday, new ABC series “National Bingo Night” opened to modest numbers (prelim 1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall), finishing 1 share out of first place but dipping slightly in its second half-hour.
ABC was no doubt hoping for better results but may have found how tough it is to launch a new show on Fridays at this time of year, when blockbuster movies like “Shrek the Third” and “Spider-Man 3” take center stage.
Best results on the night came from season finales for the battling crime dramas at 10: CBS’ “Numbers” (prelim 2.8/9 in 18-49, 10.1 million) and NBC’s “Law & Order” (prelim 2.6/7, 9.1 million).