'Survivor: China' works wonders for CBS

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NEW YORK -- CBS won Thursday's primetime with the premiere of "Survivor: China," which dominated but was down sharply to the lowest opening in the landmark reality series' history.

"Survivor: China" was still the top program on broadcast TV on Thursday, averaging 15.1 million viewers and a 4.9 rating/15 share between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to preliminary estimates released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

But "Survivor" dropped 25% in adults 18-49 compared with last year's "Survivor: Cook Islands" (18 million, 6.5/20) as well as the spring's "Survivor: Fiji" (16.4 million, 5.7/15).

It was still enough for CBS to land in first place for the night in the key demographics, while Fox came in second place with "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (8.2 million, 2.3/7) at 8 p.m. That beat an hourlong repeat of "My Name Is Earl" (5.2 million, 2.2/7) as well as a repeat "Ugly Betty" (4.7 million, 1.4/4).

CBS stayed on top at 9 p.m. with "CSI" (14.1 million, 3.9/11), which bested "Don't Forget the Lyrics" (8.4 million, 2.9/8) as well as repeats of "Grey's Anatomy" (5.5 million, 1.9/5) and NBC's "The Office" (5 million, 2.4/7). "Lyrics" grew 23% from its lead-in and was up 9% in adults 18-34 and 4% in viewership compared with the season premiere two weeks ago.

A repeat "Without a Trace" (11.3 million, 2.9/9) won at 10 p.m. against repeats "ER" (3.9 million, 1.6/5) and "Men in Trees" (4.3 million, 1.4/4).

Thursday averages: CBS (13.5 million, 3.9/11); Fox (8.3 million, 2.6/8); ABC (4.9 million, 1.6/5); NBC (4.7 million, 2.1/6); and the CW (1.8 million, 0.8/2).
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