Fast National ratings for Thursday, February 17, 2011.
A heavily promoted return appearance by Justin Bieber only gave "CSI" a tiny week-to-week bump and that improvement wasn't nearly enough to carry CBS over FOX, which actually got a small bump from the evening's installment of "American Idol."
For the night, FOX averaged a 5.4 rating among adults 18-49, far ahead of CBS' 3.0 rating and ABC's 2.7 rating in the key demographic. NBC was fourth with a 2.0 rating, beating the 1.1 rating for The CW.
Overall, FOX averaged an estimated 15.95 million viewers to go with a 9.0 rating/15 share, topping CBS' strong 8.0/13 and 13.11 million viewers. ABC was well back in third with a 5.0/8 and 7.75 million viewers, nearly doubling NBC's 2.5/4 and 4.21 million viewers. The CW was fifth with 2.57 million viewers and a 1.5/3.

8 p.m. - FOX dominated the 8 p.m. hour with 21.94 million viewers and a 7.5 rating among adults 18-49 for "American Idol," both numbers up from last Thursday. CBS was second with "The Big Bang Theory" (12.48 million viewers and a 3.7 demo rating) and the season finale of "$#*! My Dad Says" (9.78 million viewers and a 2.6 demo rating). ABC's "Wipeout" was far behind in third with 6.19 million viewers and a 1.9 demo rating. NBC was fourth with "Community" (4.16 million viewers and a 1.8 demo) and "Perfect Couples" (3.05 million and a 1.4 demo). The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" averaged 3.01 million viewers and a 1.4 demo, both up from last week.
9 p.m. - CBS moved into first in the 9 p.m. hour as the return of Justin Bieber brought "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" to 13.27 million viewers, winning the hour, and to a 2.9 demo rating, third for the hour. [Digging deeper into the "CSI" numbers lest we malign Bieber Fever too much: Yes, Bieber led to a 0.1 ratings point boost among adults 18-49. However, among women 12-17, "CSI" went from a 1.2 rating last week to a 2.5 rating this week, as CBS appears to have actually won the hour for that particular demo. Among boys 12-17, "CSI" did a 0.8 rating last week and a 1.4 rating this week. Among women 18-24, "CSI" went from a 1.3 rating last week to a 1.9 rating last night. So there you go...] ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" was second overall with 10.2 million viewers and won the hour in the key demo with a 3.7 rating, though both numbers show continued declines. FOX's "Bones" was a close third with 9.95 million viewers and a solid second with a 3.3 demo rating. NBC stayed fourth with a low-rated "The Office" (6.41 million and a 3.3 rating) and "Parks & Recreation" (4.39 million viewers and a 2.3 demo). The CW's "Nikita" averaged 2.14 million viewers and a 1.8 demo rating in fifth.
10 p.m. - "The Mentalist" closed strong for CBS with 14.94 million viewers and a 3.0 demo rating, but slightly up from last week. ABC's "Private Practice" averaged 6.85 million viewers and a 2.4 demo rating. NBC trailed again with "30 Rock" (4.06 million and a 2.0 demo) and "Outsourced" (3.21 million and a 1.5 demo.
All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change.
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.