CBS Rules Thursday Ratings, More On Red Sox Carrying Fox Network

CBS cruised to an easy victory on Thursday with “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” cresting the 30 million viewer mark and NBC sitting out part of the night with repeats.

CBS’ 9 p.m. cornerstone “CSI” averaged 28.9 million viewers and a 10.0 rating/25 share in the adults 18-49 demographic; in its second half-hour, “CSI” spiked to 30.1 million viewers and 10.6/26 in the key demo, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research.

Despite the “CSI” juggernaut, NBC’s 9 p.m. competition “The Apprentice 2” (15.5 million viewers, 7.7/19) strutted its stuff by leap-frogging from its 8-9 p.m. lead-in, reruns of “Joey” (9.8 million, 3.8/11) and “Will & Grace” (10.2 million, 4.4/12). ABC’s struggling freshman drama “Life as We Know It” (4 million, 1.5/4) had no shot at keeping up with its high-wattage competition.

At 10 p.m., CBS’ “Without a Trace” (22.2 million, 7.7/21) packed a punch against a rerun of NBC’s “ER” (12.9 million, 6.0/16). And “Survivor: Vanuatu” opened the night for CBS with a solid 18.9 million viewers and 7.2/20 in the key demo. All told, CBS towered over the competition for the night with an average of 23.3 million viewers and 8.3/22 in the key demo.

Fox was barely a factor for the night with its 8-10 p.m. telecast of the Elizabeth Hurley movies “Bedazzled” (3.5 million, 1.5/4). UPN was No. 4 for the night with its “WWE SmackDown” block (4.8 million, 1.7/4); WB Network was off the radar with its regular comedy lineup of “Blue Collar TV,” “Drew Carey’s Green Screen” and a repeat of “Charmed” adding up to a nightly average of 2.3 million viewers.

Boston got its first World Series (news – web sites) championship in 86 years. TV got its most watched Fall Classic in nearly 10 years.

Take that, Babe Ruth.

Wednesday night’s curse-breaking, series-clinching Boston Red Sox victory over the St. Louis Cardinals averaged 28.8 million fans–many of whom likely kept waiting for a groundball to run through somebody’s legs and ruin everything.

Overall, the four-game series averaged 25.5 million viewers for Fox–the most since 29 million watched the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians take six games in 1995 on ABC to settle the matter of which team had the most arguably offensive nickname, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Viewership was up 26 percent from last year’s series, which ran six games, and pitted Red Sox rivals the New York Yankees against the ultimately victorious Florida Marlins.

Wednesday’s game, featuring odd cutaways to Boston fans in a New York City bar, and an even odder shot of Jimmy Fallon (news) and Drew Barrymore (news) on the field in St. Louis amid the Red Sox celebration, was the most watched World Series game since a 1991 Minnesota Twins-Atlanta Braves matchup on CBS (32.1 million).

Brief though it was, the World Series–the first won by the formerly cursed Red Sox since 1918–helped Fox dominate every night its action was featured.

Sunday’s Game 2 was watched by 25.5 million, followed by Tuesday’s Game 3 (24.4 million) and Saturday’s Game 1 (23.2 million).

Shows that hung in there despite the compelling Red Sox storyline included: ABC’s Desperate Housewives, which cleaned up with 21.5 million on Sunday; animated classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which rounded up 10.7 million devotees on Tuesday on ABC; CBS’ stealth performer Navy NCIS, which was the most-watched scripted series of Tuesday, with 13.2 million viewers; and ABC’s Lost, which found 16.8 million on Wednesday.

Credit: Joal Ryan/Yahoo/Reuters/Hollywood Reporter/E Online