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CBS finds life tough minus 'CSI's' William L. Petersen

January 23, 2009 | 12:25 pm


CBS on Thursday got a peek of its new life without William L. Petersen, and it wasn't pretty.

"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," which last week scored big audiences for star Petersen's finale after 8 1/2 seasons, was still the night's most-watched program, with 17.5 million total viewers, according to early data from Nielsen Media Research. But the forensics drama, with Laurence Fishburne as Petersen's replacement, found tough competition in ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" (14.2 million). "Grey's" handily dispatched "CSI" in the ad-friendly demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, with a 5.6 rating versus 4.9. "CSI" tumbled 11% compared with its prior season average.

Fox won the 8 p.m. hour with its crime drama "Bones" (10 million viewers; 2.9 rating/8 share among 18- to 49-year-olds). "Bones," which has bumped all over the network's schedule, premiered in this slot last night, and so far it looks like a shrewd move for Fox.

At 10 p.m., an interesting battle is developing between ABC's "Grey's" spinoff "Private Practice" and CBS' crime drama "Eleventh Hour." "Eleventh Hour" won in total viewers (12.3 million versus 9.6 million) but "Grey's" maintained a clear advantage among viewers 18 to 49 (3.6 rating versus 2.9). "ER's" departure later this season could further alter the dynamics of a close race.

— Scott Collins   

(Photo: Laurence Fishburne and Marg Helgenberger Credit: CBS)