ABC got solid results for a pair of late-evening Barbara Walters specials, toppling "CSI" in total viewers and "The Mentalist" in the key demo, but when the dust cleared, CBS was still on top for Thursday night.
Note that there were reports of technical difficulties and a variety of preemptions in different markets. As a result, we're assuming some of these figures will change when Final numbers come in.
Among adults 18-49, CBS averaged a 2.9 rating, edging out the 2.7 rating for ABC and NBC's 2.6 rating in the key demographic. FOX was fourth with a 2.1 rating, leaving The CW in fifth with a 1.0 rating.
Overall, CBS averaged an estimated 12.43 million viewers to go with a 7.6 rating/12 share. ABC was second with a 7.0/11 and 10.83 million viewers. FOX was a distant third with a 4.2/7 and 7.02 million viewers, beating NBC's 3.4/6 and 5.69 million viewers. The CW's 1.8/3 and 2.71 million viewers finished fifth.
8 p.m. -- CBS began the night in first with a low "Big Bang Theory" (12.13 million viewers and a 3.8 demo rating) and "$#*! My Dad Says" (9.5 million and a 2.7 demo). FOX's "Bones" was second with 8.76 million viewers and a 2.3 demo rating. ABC's encore airings of "Shrek the Halls" and "Prep & Landing" averaged 7.2 million viewers and a 2.0 demo rating. NBC was fourth with "Community" (4.74 million viewers and a 2.0 demo) and "30 Rock" (5.24 million and a 2.2 rating). The CW's "Vampire Diaries" averaged 3.12 million viewers and a 1.2 demo in fifth.
9 p.m. -- The first of ABC's two Barbara Walters specials, this one focusing on Oprah Winfrey, averaged 13.15 million viewers to win the 9 p.m. hour overall, but a 2.9 rating for third in the 18-49 demo. CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was a tight second in viewers with 13.14 million and second in the demo with a 3.0 rating. NBC's hour-long "The Office" was third overall with 7.59 million viewers and won the demo comfortably with a 3.8 rating. FOX's "Fringe" averaged 5.27 million viewers and a 1.9 demo rating in fourth. The CW's "Nikita" was fifth with 2.31 million viewers.
10 p.m. -- "The Mentalist" moved CBS back into first in the 10 p.m. hour with 13.35 million viewers, but only a 2.4 rating in the demo. ABC's "Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 2010" special was second in viewers with 12.15 million and won the demo with a 3.2 rating. The finale of "The Apprentice" on NBC averaged just under 4.5 million viewers and a 1.8 demo rating.
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.