It will face tougher competition in coming weeks, but ABC’s ”Grey’s Anatomy” returned from a two-month break with a strong showing Thursday and helped the net win the night over mostly repeats on the rivals. ”Grey’s” and lead-out ”Private Practice” hit season highs, while CW’s ”The Vampire Diaries” also came back nicely.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, ABC started the night with a pretty good debut for ”Winter Wipeout” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 8.5 million viewers overall), which placed second to CBS comedy repeats for its hour but was down about 25% from its premiere on the same night a year ago. ”Wipeout” is a big upgrade in the timeslot for ABC, easily outperforming former slot occupant ”Charlie’s Angels.”

”Grey’s Anatomy” then surged from there (4.5 rating/11 share in adults 18-49, 12.0 million viewers overall), standing as the night’s No. 1 broadcast program in all key demos and rising 10% from its most recent episode on Nov. 10 to post its best demo score since late March; the vet medical drama went up against repeats on CBS, NBC and Fox, with those nets bringing back their Thursday shows in originals next week. Closing out the night for ABC, ”Private Practice” (2.8/7 in 18-49, 7.8 million viewers overall) hit a season high and was the clear broadcast leader in demos, though it likely placed behind MTV’s season premiere of ”Jersey Shore.”

For the night, ABC prevailed in 18-49 and 25-54 and also edged out CBS in total viewers. The 3.3 rating in 18-49 marks the best for a regular ABC Thursday lineup this season.

CBS placed second in demos, led by comedies ”The Big Bang Theory” (3.5/10 in 18-49, 11.6 million viewers overall) and ”Rules of Engagement” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall). The net also did decent numbers with repeats of crime dramas ”Person of Interest” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall) and ”The Mentalist” (1.9/5 in 18-49, 9.2 million viewers overall).

NBC aired an all-repeat comedy night: ”Community” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall), ”Parks and Recreation” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.4 million viewers overall), ”The Office” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall), ”Whitney” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall), a special 10 p.m. airing of ”The Office” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.8 million viewers overall) and then ”Up All Night” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall).

And Fox aired a pair of ”Bones” repeats, earning a 1.2/3 in 18-49 and 4.8 million viewers overall at 8 and a 1.1/3 in 18-49 and 4.3 million viewers overall at 9.

Over at CW, ”The Vampire Diaries” returned from an eight-week break to good numbers (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall), matching its best women 18-34 score of the season (2.3/7) and rising 14% in 18-34 vs. its last original (1.6 vs. 1.4). Also back was rookie drama ”The Secret Circle” (0.8/2 in 18-49, 2.1 million viewers overall), in line with its recent deliveries.

Next Thursday will see the series premieres of CBS comedy ”Rob” (in for ”Rules of Engagement”) and Fox drama ”The Finder” (replacing ”Bones”) as well as the return of NBC’s ”30 Rock” in its new 8 o’clock timeslot and the new-night debut of the net’s ”Up All Night” (replacing ”Whitney” at 9:30).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 3.3/9; CBS, 2.3/6; Univision, 1.5/4; Fox and CW, 1.1/3; NBC, 0.8/2.

In total viewers: ABC, 9.5 million; CBS, 9.3 million; Fox, 4.6 million; Univision, 3.6 million; CW, 2.6 million; NBC, 2.3 million.