'Grey's,' 'FlashForward' Advance ABC

Rash Report: CBS Second, but 'CSI' Falls 44% From Last Fall in Key Demo

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Whether ABC has found its next "Lost" remains to be seen, but "FlashForward" attracted 24% more of the ad-centric adults 18-49 than last fall's season premiere of "Ugly Betty." The new drama with the same cliffhanging TV tonality of "Lost" delivered a 4.1/12 rating and share.

'FlashForward'
'FlashForward' Credit: ABC
Combined with a 6.6/17 for the two-hour season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" -- which although down 11% from last fall's first showing, was still the highest-rated show on TV -- ABC won every hour and for the second consecutive night finished first, with Thursday's fast-affiliate ratings indicating an overall 5.8/16 (final live-plus-same-day data will be released Friday afternoon).

CBS finished second with a 3.7/10, as its hit "CSI" (4.0/10) fell 44% from last fall's first showing. The dramatic decline for the drama actually began last year at about the time when star William Peterson made way for replacement Laurence Fishburne. The network had hoped that combining the police procedural with similarly themed "The Mentalist" would accelerate the sophomore show's status, but "The Mentalist's" season premiere of 3.4/9 was actually a tenth of a rating point lower than last fall's first episode, which ran on a Wednesday -- although it was 6% higher than the show that debuted in the timeslot last year, "Eleventh Hour." Reality show "Survivor" (3.7/11) however, missed all the drama, as it was actually a tenth of a rating point higher than last week's season premiere.

Similar to CBS, Fox's forensic drama "Bones" dropped as well. The 2.7/8 was down 13% from last week's strong start. "Fringe", no longer competing against repeats, fell 23% to a 2.3/6, as Fox averaged a third place 2.5/7.

The CW, conversely, avoided any dramatic meltdowns. (Well, at least demographically. The plotlines of "Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural" are a different story.) So although the network finished fifth with a 1.4/4, "Vampire Diaries" (1.7/5) was up a tenth of a ratings point while "Supernatural" (1.2/3) was even.

The demo declines, however, weren't just for dramas. NBC's sitcoms sank from last week's premieres as well. In particular "Community" (2.8/7) lost 26% of its community from last week and from its lead-in "The Office" (3.8/10). The steep drop doesn't bode well for when "Community" eventually shifts to the first hour of prime once "30 Rock" returns. The shows there currently are already struggling, as "Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday" and "Parks and Recreation" (both 1.8/5) tumbled 10% and 14%, respectively.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

And "The Jay Leno Show" (1.7/5) hit a season low, and probably wishes it could flash backwards to a week ago Monday when it, not "FlashForward," had the top spot in the pop culture news narrative. But instead, "Leno" fell to last in its timeslot as NBC fell to fourth for the night with an overall 2.2/6.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Friday: Compared to catching passes right before getting smacked by a linebacker, comedy is easy. Or so Michael Strahan makes it look like, although he would be even better with an improved script for "Brothers," the new Fox sitcom in which he stars.
Saturday: Take a break from program premieres for a rerun. That is, of an old, classic, movie, as AMC runs "Ben Hur."
Sunday: The yin and yang of broadcast TV: Fox's "The Cleveland Show" promises the same sensibility (or insensitivity, to those who offend easily) as "Family Guy," which is also from creator Seth McFarland. Meanwhile, on PBS, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" looks to be Ken Burns' latest documentary masterpiece.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Will ABC's drama comeback continue with the return of "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers and Sisters" on Sunday?

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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