Sunday, September 24, 2006

GREY'S ANATOMY Upends Thursday Night Ratings Race With CSI

The biggest news from last Thursday night's ratings race was that GREY's ANATOMY over at ABC was able to upend longtime Thursday night ratings champion, CSI, by 45.4 to 22.9 million viewers. For CSI, this was a sharp ratings decline from last year's season opener that drew 29 million viewers. NBC's DEAL OR NO DEAL, lagged far behind at just 10.2 million viewers, despite a possible $6 million dollar cash prize up for grabs.

Just like politicians who put out "spin", CBS was quick to claim that they are still "America's Most Watched Network". This is still true as with the total viewer numbers for SURVIVOR, CSI and the new courtroom drama, SHARK, added together, CBS did in fact draw the highest number of total network viewers for Thursday night.

The freshman courtroom drama, which is a TV series first for actor James Woods, did fairly well at 15.0 million viewers, although ever so slightly losing to NBC's venerable ER.

Survivor is still a strong program for CBS at 17.3 million viewers despite a controversy involving contestant teams divided along racial lines.

The NBC comedy block of MY NAME IS EARL and THE OFFICE drew just 9 million viewers, not much better the cancelled FRIENDS spinoff, JOEY, from last year. In fact the current 9 million viewers is quite weak compared roughly 20 million who used to view FRIENDS a few seasons ago.

The coming weeks will be an interesting showdown between GREY'S ANATOMY and CSI. It will be interesting whether either begins to draw an increasing audience share from the other and begin to build a ratings momentum. SHARK is likely a safe bet to survive the season if the ratings continue closely begind ER, or begin to edge out this aging medical drama. But likely more than a few surprised programmers over at CBS were shocked at the strength of GRAY'S ANATOMY over the CBS flagship ratings leader, CSI. IT will be interesting to see if Thurday night is entering a viewer realignment once again, with a new ratings leader, or whether opening week viewers were merely flirting with another show for some reason. The coming weeks will likely tell a ratings drama nearly as compelling as the dramas themselves.


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