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ABC's "FlashForward" delivers, NBC's Leno hits new low on tough night, "Vampire Diaries" has bite.

September 25, 2009 |  9:34 am

ABC's big bet for the fall, "FlashForward," a serial drama in which everyone in the world (well -- spoiler alert here -- almost everyone) blacks out and has visions of their future, delivered 12.4 million viewers and won the hour in adults 18-49 in its 8 p.m. debut. That and two hours of "Grey's Anatomy" that followed drove ABC to the top for the night in viewers with 15.3 million, of which 7.6 million were adults 18-49.


The audience for "FlashForward," which the network hyped the heck out of, grew in its second half-hour, which is a good sign. While ABC would no doubt like the audience to have been a little bigger, it also had to open the night cold without benefit of a lead-in show. "Grey's Anatomy" averaged 16.8 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. and crushed the competition in adults 18-49.

CBS came in second for the night with 14 million viewers and 4.9 million adults 18-49, but the network probably is a little a concerned. The premiere of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" at 9 p.m. averaged 15.7 million, a big drop from its premiere a year ago when it averaged 23.5 million viewers. The spin is that last season CSI premiered aganist lighter competition, but that is still a big drop. "Survivor" continued to show its age. The show pulled in 11.9 million viewers at 8 p.m. At 10 p.m., last season's hit "The Mentalist" averaged 14 million viewers. Last year, the show premiered to 15.6 million in its Tuesday 9 p.m. slot.

It was a very rough night for NBC and Jay Leno. He faced his toughest competition to date going against "Grey's Anatomy" and CBS' "The Mentalist" and it wasn't much of a fight as he posted new lows and his audience fell below the 5 million mark, clocking in at 4.99 million viewers. It will probably rise above 5 million when final numbers are released by Nielsen later today. Leno didn't get a lot of help from his "Community" lead-in at 9:30, which drew just 5.4 million viewers. Overall, on a night it used to own, NBC finished fourth with 5.3 million viewers and fourth in adults 18-49 with 3 million.

Fox's "Bones" dug up 8.8 million viewers and was the highlight of their night. "Fringe" may be slowly moving out of cult status. Both were up in viewers and demographics from what Fox was averaging on Thursday night a year ago. For the night, Fox averaged 7.3 million viewers, of which 3.3 million were adults 18-49.

Some good news at CW as "The Vampire Diaries" continues to have bite, averaging almost 4 million viewers and winning with teens. It also kept 100% of its women 18-34 and 18-49 audience from last week.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Joseph Fiennes in ABC's "FlashForward." Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC