The first Thursday of February gave us a true sense of where shows are on the night this season, with all major programs running original episodes: Fox's "American Idol" is still strong; CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" is relatively unaffected by "Idol"; and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" is doing well but is no longer the king of Thursday night.
Nielsen preliminary ratings put the "Idol" results show at a 7.5 rating/20 share, down 3% from a week ago in its still-new Thursday night 8 p.m. time period. And just as CBS executives have been saying, "Bang" has been relatively unaffected, posting a 4.3 rating /12 share.
At 9 p.m., "Grey's Anatomy" -- which has not had a fresh episode in a few weeks -- came back with a decent 4.2 rating/11 share, easily winning its time period. NBC's "The Office" was next at a 3.7/9, followed by Fox's "Bones" -- now a strong third-place contender -- at 3.3/6.
Still, "Grey's" -- as well as ABC as a whole -- can no longer claim top-dog status for the night as best-rated show and network, respectively. This easily belongs to "Idol" and Fox. The network posted an overall top-drawer 5.4/14 for the night. In what seems like a battle for second place -- destined to continue under the end of the season -- ABC and CBS tied for second, each with a 3.1/8.
Looking at some notable moves, NBC's new 8:30 p.m. comedy "Perfect Couples" keeps heading in the wrong direction -- down almost 20%, now at a 1.4/4. It sat behind CW's "Vampire Diaries" for that half-hour, where "Diaries" took in a 1.5/4.
"Diaries" had another strong night for its core viewers, women 18-34 -- up a bit to a nice 2.4 rating. But its Thursday night partner-in-crime "Nikita" continues to suffer, with a 18% drop to a 1.0 rating among women 18-34.
With all the big competition coming NBC's way, virtually all its comedies took a hit: "Community" lost almost 10% to a 2.0/5; "Perfect Couple" hit NBC's lowest program rating totals for the night with a 1.4/4; "The Office" lost 7% to a 3.7/9; "Parks & Recreation" dropped nearly 20% to a 2.5/6; and "Outsourced" lost a tenth of a rating point to 1.8/5. Only "30 Rock" at 10 p.m. equaled its numbers from a week ago, at 2.4/6.
ABC's "Wipeout" was up a bit to a 2.5/6 at 8 p.m.; but "Private Practice" went to a season low at 10 p.m., landing at a 2.6/7.
CBS continued to win the 10 p.m. period with "The Mentalist" -- a 2.8/8 even with its results of a week ago.