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September 26, 2008

'Grey's,' 'Survivor' and 'Office' premiere ratings drop


UPDATED: Every season premiere Thursday night drew a lower rating than last fall, as returning favorites such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," CBS' "Survivor" and NBC's "The Office" tripped across the board.

ABC firmly won the night, as expected. Its two-hour fifth season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" (18.5 million viewers, 7.4 national adults 18 to 49 rating and an 18 share) was the evening's highest-rated and most-watched show, with each half hour growing in the Nielsens. Yet "Grey's" was down 17% from last fall’s one-hour opener. Lead-in "Ugly Betty" (9.8 million, 3.3/9) slipped 15%, marking its lowest-rated debut to date. 

Despite being the only network to air a repeat in its Thursday lineup, CBS managed to place second for the night. The network ran the first-ever HD edition of "Survivor" in the show's first-ever two-hour debut (13.1 million, 4.5/11). "Survivor" fell 10% from last fall to a new premiere low, but won 8 p.m. By pushing "Survivor" into 9 p.m., the most intensely competitive hour of the week, CBS created a new DVR-busting dilemma for viewers, forcing some to make a tough call and vote one of their returning favorites off their dual-tuner TiVos.*

What's impressive about "Survivor" is the reality series held its entire demo rating through its second hour as it went from the 8 p.m. frying pan into the 9 p.m. fire. At 10 p.m., CBS aired a "CSI" encore.

NBC was third, airing one-hour editions of "My Name Is Earl" (6.4 million, 2.7/8, down 29%) and "The Office" (9.3 million, 4.9/12, down 4%). Note "Earl" dropped the most of all the returning shows and "The Office" dropped the least. At 10 p.m., NBC aired the final season premiere of "ER" (8 million, 3.3/8, down 20% to a new premiere low). 

Fox was fourth with two episodes of "Kitchen Nightmares" (4.2 million, 1.9/5 and 4.5 million, 2.1/5). In fifth, the CW had the second-week airings of "Smallville" (4.2 million, 1.7/5), dropping only slightly from last week, and "Supernatural" (3.2 million, 1.3/3), which fell more steeply (-23%).

Premiere week ratings: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Related: Grading the best (and worst) fall TV ads.

* The reason for CBS' scheduling maneuver is complicated and not hugely interesting, the result of CBS wanting to spread out their premieres, yet ensure "CSI" debuted on the same night as upcoming procedural "Eleventh Hour," and not wanting to run a weak-performing repeat at 9 p.m. on premiere night.


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