ABC wins Wed. but CBS' 'Minds' strong

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NEW YORK -- ABC edged CBS in both key measures in Wednesday's primetime but ABC had to deal with a surging "Criminal Minds" pushing ever so slightly ahead of "Lost" in viewership.

The Mandy Patinkin criminal drama has been growing all season and, last week, came within 200,000 viewers of tying "Lost" in viewers in the ABC drama's second episode of its third season. On Wednesday night, "Criminal Minds" gained a razor-thin margin viewership with 16.1 million viewers to 16.07 million viewers for "Lost," according to preliminary data released Thursday by Nielsen Media Research.

"Lost" retained its commanding lead in the adults 18-49 demographic, averaging a 6.5 rating/16 share to become the night's highest-rated show in the demo. But "Lost" has been falling every week since its Oct. 4 debut, which in itself was down from last season's debut. The season premiere averaged 18.8 million viewers and a 7.7/19 in the demo. "Criminal Minds," on the other hand, debuted with 15.6 million viewers and a 4.5/12. Wednesday night's "Criminal Minds" averaged a 4.5/11 in the demo.

The night's top show in viewership was the results show for "Dancing With the Stars" (19.2 million, 4.9/14), which built upon last week (18.2, 4.6/13) even though no one was eliminated due to Sara Evans' departure. CBS's "Jericho" (10.8 million, 3.1/9) was about even with last week.

NBC's "30 Rock" (5.8 million, 2.3/7) fell sharply from last week's premiere of 8.1 million, 2.9/8. The same was true of "20 Good Years" (5.1 million, 2.1/6), which premiered with 7 million viewers and a 2.5/7. Things improved slightly for NBC at 9 p.m., which with "The Biggest Loser" (7.4 million, 3.1/8) tied its adults 18-49 season high rating.

At 10 p.m., "CSI: NY" (15.7 million, 5.0/13) was the clear winner. ABC's "Six Degrees" (8.6 million, 3.2/9) dropped in the demo but stayed flat in viewers. "Dateline: NBC" (7.2 million, 2.6/7) came in third.

Fox's ratings are unreliable due to the live nature of Wednesday night's New York Mets-St. Louis Cardinals.

The CW's "America's Next Top Model" delivered 5.1 milllion viewers and a 2.5/7 in the demo compared to last week's 5.5 million and 2.7/8. "One Tree Hill" (2.9 million, 1.3/3) was down from last week.

Nightly averages: ABC (14.6 million, 4.9/13); CBS (14.2 million, 4.2/11); NBC (6.7 million, 2.6/7); Fox (10.4 million, 3.2/8); and The CW (4 million, 1.9/5).
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