CBS delivered what it set out to do in moving its rising comedy "The Big Bang Theory" to a high-profile Thursday time slot: a big overall Thursday prime-time victory among 18-49 viewers.
Although final numbers are not in, CBS beat out longtime Thursday night leader ABC in its first big meeting of the season. CBS had a Nielsen preliminary 3.7/11 to ABC's 3.4/10.
"Big Bang"'s strong 4.8/15 at 8 p.m. did well on two accounts -- it was up over its Monday night premiere of a year ago by one-tenth of a rating point, and it was up over last year's "Survivor" premiere. "Bang" replaced "Survivor" this year in the 8 p.m. time period.
Perhaps better news for CBS was that its somewhat controversial -- and not very critically acclaimed -- comedy "$#*! My Dad Says" retained a fair amount of the "Bang" lead-in audience, posting a nice 3.9/12. CBS' "The Mentalist" at 10 p.m. was down some versus last year's opening. It tied ABC's "Private Practice" with a 3.3/10. ABC notes that "Practice" outperformed "Mentalist" among younger 18-34 viewers.
ABC had an uneven start to its Thursday. "Grey's Anatomy" continued to be top dog on the night, with a best-rated 5.3/14 -- the leading Thursday night premiering show for the last five seasons. But its new "My Generation" at 8 p.m. got crushed, coming in at fourth place with a 1.6/5 -- all this in the wake of "Big Bang", as well as Fox's "Bones," which came in second with a 2.7/8.
NBC came in as expected. "The Office" was up a bit at a 4.3/11; "30 Rock" was down a bit to a 2.6/8. "Community" struggled at 8 p.m. against "Bang" with a 2.2/7. Good news for NBC came from "Outsourced" riding on the back of "The Office," taking in a nice 3.5/9.
"The Apprentice" continued to suffer, offering about the same numbers as a week ago for its premiere at a 1.4/4 -- well out of the running in the 10 p.m. time period race.
Fox also offered few surprises. "Bones" earned a 2.7/8, down some from last year's premiere; "Fringe" got hit a bit more, off 30% from a year ago to a 2.1/6.
Against all this, CW was able to put up some better numbers for "Vampire Diaries" versus a week ago -- 12% in adults 18-34 (1.9/6) and 8% in women 18-34 (2.6/8). "Nikita" dropped a bit against adult 18-34 and women 18-34 viewing groups.
After CBS and ABC in the race for Thursday night 18-49 viewership came NBC at a 2.6/7; Fox at a 2.4/7; Univision at a 1.7/5; and CW at a 1.3/4. Looking at younger viewing trends, ABC dominated viewers 18-34 with a 3.2/10. NBC was next at a 2.8/9, followed by CBS at a 2.5/8, Fox with a 2.1/7, Univision at a 1.8/6 and CW at a 1.5/5.