'Criminal Minds' has killer night in ratings race

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It was a big night for CBS' "Criminal Minds" on Wednesday.

After weathering the assault of two high-profile rookies in the 9 p.m. hour, ABC's "Private Practice" and NBC's "Bionic Woman," as well as a major recasting following star Mandy Patinkin's abrupt exit in the summer, the veteran crime drama emerged as the top program in the hour this week.

With 15.7 million viewers and a 4.3 rating/11 share -- its best ratings in nine months -- "Minds" beat "Practice" in the demo for the first time and ranked as the No.1 program of the night in viewers and 18-49, according to early Nielsen estimates.

"Private" (11.4 million, 4.2/10) was a close second in the 9-10 p.m. slot, while "Bionic" (6.3 million, 2.5/6) continued its descent with its lowest demo number to date, finishing behind Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" (7.0 million, 3.2/8), which posted hit series highs in viewers and 18-49.

Additionally, the CW's "America's Next Top Model" (5.3 million, 2.6/8) hit season highs in adults 18-34 (2.5/7) and adults 18-49, lifting the freshman drama "Gossip Girl" to its best numbers since the premiere.

For the night, CBS led the pack with 12.1 million viewers and a 3.5/9, followed by ABC (9.5 million, 3.4/9), Fox (7.2 million, 2.9/8), NBC (6.5 million, 2.3/8) and the CW (4.1 million, 2.0/5).
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