Eye opener with 'Moonlight,' 'CSI' wins


NEW YORK -- A strong "CSI" rocketed CBS to the top of the primetime ratings Thursday.

The Eye made it back-to-back victories in total viewers and adults 18-49 when its Friday lineup, featuring the new drama "Moonlight," also finished on top, according to preliminary data released Saturday by Nielsen Media Research.

The long-awaited second year of battle between two TV heavyweights -- CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" -- ended in a split Thursday. Coming off a suspenseful cliffhanger in its May season finale involving the fate of one of its main characters, "CSI" (25.2 million, 8.2 rating/19 share in adults 18-49) won in viewers, while "Grey's" (20.9 million, 8.8/21) prevailed in adults 18-49.

"CSI" was up compared with last season's 7.7/19 premiere rating in adults 18-49, while "Grey's" fell from last year's 11.0.

Airing against "CSI" and "Grey's," NBC's "The Office" (9.6 million, 5.1/12) had a strong season debut with a one-hour episode that was up from last season's premiere (9.1 million, 4.3/11) and tied the airing of Jan. 12, 2006, for the show's highest adults 18-49 rating ever.

CBS' "Without a Trace" (16.7 million, 4.7/13), back in the saddle at 10 p.m. Thursdays after a move to Sundays last season, took on and won against ABC's new drama "Big Shots" (11.1 million, 4.5/12) as well as NBC's "ER" (9.9 million, 4.1/11). "Trace" held more of the "CSI" audience than the premiere of last year's "Shark" (14.7 million, 4.1/11), while "Big Shots" kept a little more than half of the "Grey's" audience.

The 8 p.m. hour went to CBS' "Survivor: China" (14.1 million, 4.6/13), which was down from last week's premiere (6.5/18) that didn't have as much competition. ABC's "Ugly Betty" (11.1 million, 3.9/11) had a rougher go of it in its season premiere compared with last year's debut of 16.3 million, 5.0/14). NBC's hourlong "My Name Is Earl" (8.7 million, 3.8/11) gave the network the show's highest rating since Feb. 15.

CBS continued its winning streak Friday with the season premiere of "Ghost Whisperer" (8.7 million, 2.4/9), which didn't have any serious competition for ratings against NBC's "Deal or No Deal" (7.4 million, 1.8/7), Fox's "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" (5.1 million, 1.4/5) or ABC's "Just For Laughs" (4.1 million, 1.1/4). "Ghost" was down from last year's season premiere of 10.3 million viewers and a 3.2/11, as was NBC's "Deal" (11.7 million, 3.4/12 on Sept. 22).

CBS won in the demo with the premiere of the vampire drama "Moonlight" (8.6 million, 2.5/8), though NBC won in viewership at 9 p.m. with the two-hour season premiere of "Las Vegas" (8.2 million, 2.4/8) and managed to edge out CBS' "Numbers" (9.2 million, 2.5/8) in both viewership and the demo at 10 p.m. Two hours of ABC's "20/20" didn't provide much competition, nor did Fox's repeat of "K-Ville."

"Moonlight" was down from last year's season premiere of "Close to Home" (11.9 million, 3.0/9). "Numbers" also was down from last year (11.3 million, 3.1/10).