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Sep 27, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Friday, Sept. 27

NBC wins Thursday despite CBS gains

Kicking off year two of the Thursday night battle of the networks, NBC held on to win the night in demos and total viewers, but CBS, fueled by “Survivor” and “CSI,” continued to chip away with its best performance on the night since the 1990-91 season.

Airing from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” supplanted NBC’s eroding “ER” as the most-watched Thursday drama in total viewers (29.8 million vs. 24.8 million) and households (17.9 rating/26 share vs. 16.9/27), according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. The strong showing for “CSI” allowed the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. series premiere of Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Without A Trace” to improve the time slot by 37 percent in adults 18 to 49 (5.9/14 vs. 4.3/11) and 48 percent in total viewers (16.6 million vs. 11.9 million), compared with what “The Agency” averaged in its debut last year.

As expected after last season’s cliffhanger, NBC’s “Friends” opened the 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. Thursday frame with highs for the night in total viewers (33.3 million) and adults 18 to 49 (16.1/41), up by single-digit percentages from last year’s season opener. It was the highest viewer head count for a premiere “Friends” episode since its rollout in fall 1994.

In the 8:30 p.m. frame, the season opener of “Scrubs” posted a top-ranked 11.0/26 among adults 18 to 49, but retained 68 percent of blockbuster “Friends” — down from the 72 percent retention the canceled “Inside Schwartz” had in its debut last year (Sept. 27, 2001).

Many viewers who watched “Friends” went to CBS’s second-week airing of “Survivor: Thailand,” which grew 41 percent half-hour to half-hour in adults 18 to 49 (7.0/18 vs. 9.9/23) and 28 percent in total viewers (18.8 million vs. 24.0 million) from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

ABC’s second run of USA Network’s critically received “Monk” drama turned in a mere 1.7/4 in adults 18 to 49 and 7.2 million total viewers against the “Friends”/”Survivor” blitz. Still, “Monk’s” head count gave ABC its largest audience in the 8 p.m. hour since April 25, 2002.

For the 9 p.m.-to-9:30 p.m. frame, the first-half averages for “CSI” grew 22 percent from the “Survivor” lead-in in total viewers (29.2 million) and 9 percent in adults 18 to 49 (10.8/25), although it was just edged out by NBC’s “Will & Grace” in the demo (11.1/25). “Will & Grace” was off 3 percent from its year-ago season opener in adults 18 to 49 (11.5/28).

NBC’s series premiere of “Good Morning, Miami” retained 83 percent of its lead-in at a second-ranked 9.2/21 in adults 18 to 49 but was off 13 percent from last year’s season opener of “Just Shoot Me” (10.6/25). “CSI” grew 9 percent by the half-hour to an 11.7/27 in adults 18 to 49 to win the 8:30 p.m. frame outright in the key demo.

Overall, “CSI’s” scores in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers for the 9 p.m. hour marked 44 percent and 34 percent growth curves year to year, respectively. Lost in the wake of the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. duel was ABC’s third airing of “Push Nevada,” which dropped 50 percent week to week to a 1.2/4 score in adults 18 to 49.

At 10 p.m., “ER” won the hour in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers, but experienced 10 percent and 8 percent drops in the respective categories from its year-ago season opener. CBS’s “Without A Trace” marked the network’s highest series debut in the time slot in adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54 since “Chicago Hope” premiered in fall 1994. ABC’s “PrimeTime Thursday” was a distant third in adults 18 to 49 (1.8/4) and total viewers (5.8 million).

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 (12.3/29), although it was down 6 percent from last season’s Thursday opener. NBC’s winning scores in total viewers (24.8 million) and households (15.6/24) held close to even with last year. CBS saw its second-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (8.5/20) and total viewers (22.6 million) shoot up 57 percent and 42 percent, respectively, year to year.

Fox, with a repeat movie run of “Rush Hour,” came in third at a 2.5/6 average in adults 18 to 49. ABC came in fourth at a 1.6/4 in adults 18 to 49, down 45 percent from its year-ago opening night (2.9/7).

Showtime sets plans for film on hate crime: The tragic true-hate-crime story of an African American man who was dragged to his death, chained to the back of a pickup truck by three white men in a small Texas town, is the basis for Showtime’s “Jasper, Texas,” an original telefilm starring Jon Voight, Louis Gossett and Joe Morton. The film is slated for June 2003, when its premiere will commemorate the fifth anniversary of the crime.