In the ratings, 'Survivor' ages like a fine vine
By STEPHEN BATTAGLIO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
'Survivor: Amazon' gave CBS a Nielsen victory.
"Survivor" no longer has the buzz that hot reality shows create. But it still has plenty of fans.
The 90-minute premiere of the latest edition of the CBS series, this time set in the Amazon, pulled in 23.3 million viewers Thursday, according to Nielsen Media Research figures.
"Survivor" helped give CBS a rare ratings win for the night over NBC's vaunted Thursday lineup in total viewers and among the 18- to 49-year-olds coveted by advertisers.
The last time CBS pulled a Thursday-night win with entertainment programming during a February sweep was in 1993.
CBS had another ratings landmark on the night, as the network's crime drama "CSI" became the first network drama to top an original episode of NBC's "ER" during its nine-season run.
The 90-minute "CSI" was watched by 27 million , compared to 20.6 million for "ER." "CSI" was also the top choice in the 10 p.m. hour among viewers 18 to 49.
"CSI" typically runs for an hour at 9 p.m., but was extended to to take advantage of the "Survivor" premiere.
Inside CBS, executives were pleased - and a bit surprised - at the durability of "Survivor," now in its sixth edition.
"It clearly is the Rolls-Royce of the genre," CBS President Leslie Moonves told the Daily News. "It stands on its own as a great drama."
Stacey Lynn Koerner, a senior vice president at ad-buying firm Initiative Media, said CBS has resisted the urge to become overly dependent on "Survivor" and burn viewers out on it.
The network takes the show off for months at a time between locales.
"Because they keep taking it away and bringing it back, there is time to build up momentum and anticipation," she said.
But viewers also demonstrated their voracious appetite for new reality fare Thursday.
Up against tough established competition on CBS and NBC, ABC's newest reality entry, "Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People," was watched by 10 million viewers in the 9 p.m. hour.
That's 4.6 million viewers more than what ABC averaged in the time period this season.
Among viewers 18 to 49, the audience was nearly triple the size of what ABC had been drawing.