ABC tops viewers in night of lows all around

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NEW YORK -- It was a night of lows on broadcast TV Thursday, both season and series.

ABC won the night in primetime, thanks to the return to originals of "Grey's Anatomy" and a winning adults 18-49 performance by "October Road." But "Grey's" delivered its lowest adults 18-49 rating of the season for an original, according to preliminary data released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

None of the Big Three was immune to the lows, some season, some series, with original episodes. "ER" tied its lowest adults 18-49 rating for an original in the series' 13-year history. NBC's "My Name Is Earl," ABC's "Ugly Betty" and CBS' "Shark" also either tied or reached new series lows. Fox's "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" also hit a low in 18-49.

The 8 p.m. hour went to "Survivor" (13.2 million, 4.4 rating/13 share in adults 18-49), which beat out "Ugly Betty" (9.5 million, 3.0/9) and "5th Grader" (9.7 million, 3.2/10) as well as "My Name Is Earl" (7.1 million, 3.0/10). NBC's "The Office" was a repeat.

"Grey's" (20.9 million, 8.5/22) returned to overshadow everything at 9 p.m. and, though it was down 10% from its previous season average in adults 18-49 (8.5/22) it gained viewers from 20 million at 9 p.m. to 21.9 million at 9:30 p.m. "CSI" (12.5 million, 3.3/9) was a repeat, but it was still ahead of NBC's "30 Rock" (5.2 million, 2.4/8) and "Scrubs" (5.5 million, 2.9/7) as well as Fox's "Trading Spouses" (4.7 million, 1.7/5), all originals.

ABC continued its streak with "Road" (9.9 million, 4.2/12), which won the hour in the demo. NBC continued to suffer from a decline in one of its franchise shows, "ER" (9.1 million, 3.7/10). Thursday night's telecast was tied for its lowest-rated original episode in adults 18-49 as well as down 23% from its 4.8/13 so far this season. "Shark" (12.4 million, 3.0/8) topped "ER" in viewership, but it was also down to its lowest-rated original adults 18-49 number.

Nightly averages: ABC (13.4 million, 5.2/15); CBS (12.7 million, 3.6/10); Fox (7.2 million, 2.5/7); NBC (7.1 million, 3.1/9); and the CW (3.8 million, 1.6/4).
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