'Will & Grace' Helps NBC Stay Tough on Thursday

It turns out that even if viewers weren't interested in watching "Will & Grace" for most of the season, they were still eager to say good-bye forever. The strong showing for the sitcom send-off was enough to help NBC capture the key demographic on Thursday night.

Overall, of course, CBS averaged a 12.6 rating/20 share, beating out the 10.3/17 for NBC. FOX got a boost by saying adios to "That '70s Show" and did a 4.7/8 for the night, leaving ABC in fourth with a 3.9/6. The WB's 1.7/3 was good for fifth, followed by the 1.3/2 for UPN.

Among adults 18-49, it was NBC in the lead with a 6.8 rating in the demographic the networks crave most. CBS was second with a 5.9 rating, leaving FOX well back in third with a 3.6 rating. ABC's 2.1 rating stayed ahead of the 0.9 for The WB and UPN's 0.7 rating.

CBS swept the night in overall ratings, beginning at 8 p.m. with the 9.2/16 for a "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" repeat. NBC was a close second with an hour-long "Will & Grace" retrospective. FOX's "The '70s Show" series finale had a 5.5/9 for third, better than the 3.3/6 for ABC's "American Inventor." The WB's telecast of "Drumline" did a 1.6/3, topping repeats of "Everybody Hates Chris" and "Love, Inc." on UPN.

The season finale of "CSI" did a 15.7/24 in the 9 p.m. hour for CBS. Over on NBC, the ending of "Will & Grace" had an 11.5/18, far above the show's season average, playing to around 18 million viewers. ABC's "American Inventor" conclusion moved up to third as "The O.C." did a 3.9/6 with the promise of a major character death. The WB's movie had no trouble beating the 1.2/2 averaged by "Eve" and "Cuts" on UPN.

The evening ended with CBS in first again thanks to the 12.8/21 for the "Without a Trace" finale. On NBC, though, the season finale of "E.R." delivered a 10.8/18 and easily beat CBS' procedural in the key demo. ABC's "Primetime" wasn't really in the race.

  • Ratings information is taken from fast national data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are preliminary and subject to change.