CBS’ combination of Survivor and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation once again proved too much for NBC’s Joey and The Apprentice, while ABC's much-talked-about Veteran's Day airing of Saving Private Ryan did not muster a big audience, although the numbers were likely depressed by pre-emptions.
CBS was the top-rated network Thursday night, buoyed by huge numbers for CSI, with a powerhouse 10.7 rating/24 share among adults 18 to 49 and 29.5 million total viewers. Survivor scored, too, with a 7.3/18 in 18 to 49s and 20.1 million total viewers. CBS finished the night with an average 8.3/20 and 23.4 million total viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen data.
On NBC, ER was the bright spot, recording a 9.3/23 and 19.8 million viewers. Its CBS competition, Without a Trace, grabbed slightly more viewers, but was not as strong in the demo.
It was certainly not a night for the squeamish. The combination of Saving Private Ryan's painfully realistic violence, ER's bloodletting, and CSI's post-mortems and pre-mortem flashbacks, made for some tough, though critically acclaimed, sledding.
Overall, NBC finished in second on the night with a 7.5/18 and 15.9 million viewers. Joey recorded a 5.2/14 and 11.7 million viewers. At 9 p.m., The Apprentice ticked up to a 7.7/18 and 16.1 million viewers.
Fox’s teen soap, The O.C., held steady in its second Thursday-night airing with a 3.5/9 and 8 million viewers.
Lead-out North Shore lost about half the audience though, leaving Fox with an average 2.7/6 and 6.1 million viewers.
ABC’s ratings were confused by a couple dozen stations preempting Saving Private Ryan for fear of incurring the FCC's wrath--and some complaints were indeed lodged with the FCC the next day. ABC’s early ratings include both the movie and preempted shows in metered markets. The network’s average in prime was a 3.0/7 and 9.2 million viewers.
UPN’s WWE Smackdown telecasts earned a 1.5/4 and 4.6 million viewers. On the WB, theatrical Save the Last Dance recorded a 1.2/3 and 2.8 million viewers.