CBS won the prime-time Nielsen Media Research ratings race handily Thursday night in the key 18-49 demo, thanks to a world-beating performance from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from 9 p.m.-10 p.m. and the ability of Without a Trace at 10 p.m. to hold onto a big chunk of that lead-in.
According to Nielsen overnight numbers, CBS averaged a 6.8 rating/18 share on the night, with CSI averaging a whopping 9.6/23, more than double NBC's second-place finish for back-to-back Will & Grace episodes (4.7/12).
NBC was second on the night with a 4.7/12 for Joey at 8-9, which won its time period with a 5.1/14; Committed (which also won its time period with a 5.0/13); Will & Grace (one new, one repeat); and a repeat of the debut of crime drama, Medium.
Fox was a distant third with a 2.5/6 on the night. In the battle of the younger-skewing dramas, Fox's O.C.(3.3/9) crushed ABC's Life as We Know It (1.5/4). Fox did not do as well with North Shore at 9-10, however, which averaged a 1.7/4.
UPN actually tied ABC for fourth place, with both averaging a 2.0/5. For ABC, it was quite a comedown from Wednesday night, when the network blew away the competition (a 7.3/18 average) with Lost and Alias.
Thursday night saw a fairly lifeless Life as We Know It (1.4/4), followed by a slightly better Extreme Makeover (1.9/5), and Prime Time (2.7/7).
UPN's fourth-place finish was on the brawny backs of its pro wrestlers (WWE Smackdown).The WB was a distant fifth, with a 1.2/3 for the movie, Summer Catch.