'Grey's' cliffhanger tops for ABC Thursday


NEW YORK -- The resolution of the "Grey's Anatomy" cliffhanger was a humdinger for ABC, leading the show to its best viewership and adults 18-49 rating short of the monster ratings it got following the 2006 Super Bowl.

"Grey's" averaged 27.3 million viewers and an 11.6 rating/27 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary data released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

"Grey's" won not only the 9 p.m. hour but also the night in all major categories, which is a real accomplishment given the fact that "American Idol" made its first enchroachment into Thursday so far this season. It also gave the show its best performance against "CSI" (21.6 million, 6.7/15) so far this season; "CSI" was down in the demo from last week's 22.7 million, 7.3/17.

It was the first time so far this season that "American Idol" wasn't the biggest thing on TV, although the first night of four cuts still dominated its 8 p.m. time period and dampened ratings for its rivals. "Idol" averaged 24.2 million viewers and a 9.0/23 in the demo, easily dismissing CBS' "Survivor: Fiji" (13.6 million, 4.6/12) plus NBC's "My Name Is Earl" (8.7 million, 3.6/10) and "The Office" (8.2 million, 4.2/10), which seemed to suffer to varying degrees. "Survivor" took the biggest hit, down from the 16.1 million and 5.6/15 it had when it premiered last week. "The Office" was close to last week's 4.4 in adults 18-49.

Some of "Grey's" audience spilled over past 10 p.m., giving ABC's "Oprah Oscar Special" a boost in its first half hour. ABC's special averaged 15.8 million viewers and a 6.2/16 in the demo, although it's likely to be revised downward with the final numbers. "ER" (9.9 million, 4.0/11) fell well below last week's 11.6 million and 4.8/13 in the demo; "Shark" (14.3 million, 3.9/10) was also down over last week (15.1 million, 4.4/12).

Nightly averages: ABC (17.6 million, 7.0/17); CBS (16.5 million, 5.1/13); NBC (7.8 million, 3.5/9); Fox (15.4 million, 5.9/14); and The CW (2.3 million, 0.9/2).