'Bones,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'The Big Bang Theory': Thursday night ratings fight

thursday-ratings-battle.jpgThe big news on Thursday nights this fall is the move of "The Big Bang Theory" from Mondays. Will it take over as the night's ratings champion, or do some aging mainstays still have some ratings juice left in them?

As we've done all this week, we offer up some thoughts on how the ratings skirmish might shake out.

The heavyweights (old-school division): "CSI" and "Grey's Anatomy" have been battling for several years now; last season CBS' crime drama drew more total viewers (15.7 million to 13.8 million for "Grey's"), while "Grey's" was a pretty decisive winner among adults 18-49 (5.3 rating to 3.9 for "CSI"; all numbers in this post are live-plus-7 ratings through the end of last season). Neither one, however, was the night's most-watched show overall; that title shifted to "The Mentalist," which averaged 16.8 million people. All three should continue to lead their time periods -- there's just not a ton of competition -- but "CSI" and "Grey's," which are entering their 11th and seventh seasons, are probably on the downslope of the ratings curve.

The heavyweight (new-school division): "Big Bang" had a breakout season last year (14.3 million viewers per week and a 5.4 in adults 18-49), so much so that CBS felt comfortable asking it to lead off a night. Given it's 8 o'clock competition ("Bones," "Community," "My Generation" and "The Vampire Diaries"), there's no reason to think it won't lead its half-hour by a comfortable margin. We're curious, though, to see whether all the viewers "BBT" had last season follow it to the new timeslot.

The veterans: "Bones" fans are among the most loyal in television, so despite much hand-wringing about Booth's new lady friend, the show should continue to pull in solid ratings. "Private Practice" does reasonably well for ABC at 10 p.m., and the first three-quarters of NBC's comedy block ( "Community," "30 Rock" and "The Office") will probably hold the line as well -- which is to say that "The Office" will likely still be a top-20 show among adults 18-49 and "Community" and "30 Rock" will continue to serve their niches.

The newbies: Two of the worst-reviewed new comedies of the fall -- CBS' "S#*! My Dad Says" and NBC's "Outsourced" -- call Thursday night home. The novelty of the former's title and star William Shatner could be a draw at first, but we suspect good-sized dips for both networks when they're on (8:30 ET for "$#*!" and 9:30 for "Outsourced"). "Nikita" has performed well so far for The CW, actually building on its "Vampire Diaries" lead-in. And your guess is as good as ours as to how ABC's mockudrama "My Generation" will do at 8.

The wildcard: See above for "My Generation." Gut instinct says it will probably pull a modest rating, but we wouldn't be shocked if it did really well or really poorly.

The DVR factor: Thursday was probably the most DVR'd night on the schedule last season, and we expect that to continue. "Fringe" was one of the most-recorded shows on TV last season in terms of percentage of viewers gained (31 percent in total audience and 39 percent in adults 18-49). Meanwhile "Grey's Anatomy," "The Mentalist" and "CSI" were all among the top 10 in the number of viewers added.

How are you approaching your Thursday night viewing?

Follow