ABC on top with Thursday dramas

"Grey's Anatomy" helps network win first night of sweeps

UPDATED 1:24 p.m. PT, April 25, 2008

Led by the return of "Grey's Anatomy," ABC's full drama lineup resumed its Thursday run and ruled the opening of May sweeps despite some distressing viewership drops for the network and its competitors.

"Grey's" (16 million viewers, 6.3 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 16 share) continued the trend of serialized dramas returning post-strike to lower-than-average returns. The medical drama and its lead-in, "Ugly Betty" (8.5 million, 2.5/8) both had their lowest first-run rating ever. "Grey's" was nonetheless the highest-rated scripted telecast since an episode of "House" aired in February.

Moved to 10 p.m., "Lost" (12.4 million, 5.5/14) benefited from its best lead-in this season and remained on par with prior performances despite airing at a later hour.

If ABC had some wince-inducing drops, the network had plenty of company. CBS' "CSI" (16.7 million, 4.6/11) and NBC's "My Name Is Earl" (6.1 million, 2.3/7), "The Office" (7.6 million, 3.9/10) and "ER" (7.3 million, 2.9/8) all hit season -- if not series -- lows amid the increased competition.

CBS came in second place for the evening, with "Survivor" winning 8 p.m. (13 million, 4.2/13). At 10 p.m. "Without a Trace" (13.5 million, 3.3/9) was below average.

NBC was third, with "Scrubs" shifted to 8:30 p.m. (5.3 million, 2.4/7). Losing its "Office" lead-in, "Scrubs" dropped 27% from its prior 9:30 p.m.average. In the former "Scrubs" slot, "30 Rock" (5.5 million, 2.8/7) had the upside of a stronger lead-in but faced greater competition, resulting in an on-par draw with its prior average.

In fourth, Fox had back-to-back episodes of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (averaging 8.6 million, 2.3/6). The CW aired back-to-back episodes of "Smallville" (averaging 2.9 million, 1.2/3).