For a Thursday devoid of a new installment of CBS’s CSI (which premieres Oct. 9), it’s no surprise that ABC’s powerhouse Grey’s Anatomy dominated the ratings last night. According to overnight data, the sudsy hospital drama garnered 18.3 million viewers in its two-hour premiere, easily topping last season’s average of 14.4 million. That’s down 12 percent from last fall’s 20.9 million premiere, but with DVR usage increasing so much, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Grey’s will get a huge bump in viewership once those numbers are out.
Thursday also saw the two-hour launch of CBS’s Survivor: Gabon, which nabbed 12.9 million viewers, down slightly from last fall’s average and premiere. Ho-hum premieres (read: no ratings breakouts…yet!) were the story of the night. Other season debuts included: ABC’s Ugly Betty (9.8 million), which gained more than a million viewers in its second half hour; two debut episodes of NBC’s My Name is Earl (6.1 and 6.7 million), which also grew; and an hour-long episode of NBC’s The Office (9.2 million), which almost matched the 9.7 million who tuned in for last year’s premiere. Like many other shows premiering yesterday evening, The Office debut greatly improved over its 2007-08 seasonal average of 7.2 million, but season premieres are typically inflated because of a surge of interest early in the season. Plus, last season was affected by the writers’ strike, which caused viewers to tune out, making last year’s averages slightly lower than they probably would have been otherwise.
Since The CW premiered their Thursday night early, we were treated to second episodes. Smallville snagged a decent 4.1 million viewers, only down 200,000 from last week. Supernatural, on the other hand, was down to 3.2 million viewers — a steep 20 percent decline from last week’s rather surprising debut of 4 million viewers.
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Jennifer Armstrong’s recap of the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy
Dalton Ross’ recap of the season premiere of Survivor: Gabon
Ugly Betty: Last night’s best quotes
Grey’s Anatomy: Season 4’s best and worst