The season premieres on last night’s prime time schedule took a back seat to Thursday-night favorite CSI. The forensics drama led CBS to victory among advertisers’ coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewers.
CSI notched a 9.1 rating/22 share in the demo and drew 27.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast national data. (That’s off just slightly from the show’s thunderous debut—10.2/25 and 29 million viewers.)
CBS won the night with a 7.0/18 in prime time. The only challenger to its usual Thursday dominance was second-place NBC (4.9/13), which eked out a slim victory in the 10 o’clock hour. The Peacock's ER posted a 6.6/17, edging out the night’s highest-rated season premiere, CBS’ Without a Trace (6.4/7).
The biggest surprise on Thursday may have been Everybody Loves Chris at 8 p.m. UPN’s heavily promoted critics’ favorite weighed in at 2.3/7, down 28% from last week’s 3.2-rated premiere.
ABC’s series debut of Night Stalker (2.6/6) was lost in the crowd at 9 o’clock, but NBC’s The Apprentice posted a respectable 4.7/12 in the same slot, one that CSI essentially owns.
The season premiere of Will & Grace, directed by comedy vet James Burrows, weighed in with a 4.2/11 at 8:30-9 p.m. The 8 p.m. season premiere of Smallville’s 2.6/7 was a good performance for The WB, but ABC’s Alias (2.4/7) and UPN’s Everwood (1.4/3) were less remarkable in their fall debuts.