ABC captured the first night of the May sweep in demos on Thursday thanks in part to “Lost” closing out the night strong, though returning shows “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy” returned to action with soft scores. Overall, it was a quiet night, with the major broadcasters down 12% in young adults vs. the same night a year ago.
According to preliminary 18-49 averages for the night, “Grey’s Anatomy” (6.3 rating/16 share in adults 18-49, 16.0 million viewers overall) easily led the 9 o’clock hour in key demos but will come in down more than 20% vs. the same night a year ago; of course, not airing on Thursdays since January didn’t help. This could also be the lowest Thursday rating to date for “Grey’s.” Also off the sked for months, “Ugly Betty” (2.5/8 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall) placed third at 8 o’clock with what looks to be its lowest rating for an original episode.
ABC got better news at 10 o’clock, though, where “Lost” (5.5/14 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) won in all under-55 categories, taking advantage of its lead-in to improve by about 30% over what “October Road” scored in the hour a year ago. The drama was also up about 20% in 18-49 vs. its most recent firstrun airing, in the 9 o’clock hour on March 20.
CBS, second on the night in demos and first in total viewers, received a strong performance from “Survivor” at 8 o’clock, which dominated the hour (4.2/13 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall) and was up week to week despite stronger competition. At 9, “CSI” (4.6/11 in 18-49, 16.7 million viewers overall) placed a solid second in most categories and first in total viewers, though it will come in about 20% lower than the same night a year ago. The Eye closed out the night with a second-place demo finish for “Without a Trace” (3.3/9 in 18-49, 13.5 million viewers overall), which performed lower than “Shark” in the timeslot a year ago but still led its hour in total viewers.
The tougher competition hurt NBC’s comedy block, which was lower than recent weeks. Still, they held up well vs. the same night a year ago, with the exception of “My Name Is Earl” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 6.1 million viewers overall), which continues to fade as the leadoff show. “The Office” at 9 o’clock (3.9/10 in 18-49, 7.6 million viewers overall) was down vs. recent weeks but in line with the same night a year ago, while “30 Rock” at 9:30 (2.8/7 in 18-49, 5.5 million viewers overall) lost a good chunk of its lead-in but was up a bit vs. last year when it aired at 9. “ER” placed third at 10 o’clock (2.9/8 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall), likely hitting another firstrun low.
Each of the major nets was down year-to-year, though ABC held up best — retaining 92% of its 18-49 average of the opening Thursday of the May 2007 sweep.
At CW, “Smallville” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) was in line with its performance a year ago, but “Supernatural” (1.0/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) didn’t hold up as well.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.8/13; CBS, 4.0/11; NBC, 2.9/8; Fox, 2.3/6; Univision, 1.7/5; CW, 1.2/3.
In total viewers: CBS, 14.4 million; ABC, 12.3 million; Fox, 8.6 million; NBC, 6.5 million; Univision, 3.9 million; CW, 2.9 million.