LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Emaciated from weeks of "Wickedly Perfect" and forensic drama repeats, viewers flocked back to CBS' "Survivor" franchise in droves on Thursday (Feb. 17) night. The premiere of "Survivor: Palau" delivered the series' best season-starting numbers in some time and carried CBS to one of its strongest Thursdays in recent memory.
Overall, CBS averaged 25.2 million viewers, making it the network's most watched Thursday with its regular lineup since the introduction of people meters. In addition, the night's 9.0 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.7 rating among adults 25 to 54 were the best for a regular lineup Thursday since March of 2001.

The 8 p.m. ET episode of "Survivor: Palau" hooked 23.66 million was the most watched "Survivor" premiere (excluding post-Super Bowl airings) since "Survivor: Africa" in 2001. The 13.1/21 household rating and 9.1 rating in the 18-49 demo were the best since "Survivor: Amazon" in 2003. Last fall's "Vanuatu" premiere drew only 20.06 million, the series' lightest launch since its very first installment.

The assist from "Survivor" helped get "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" back to 30.72 million viewers, following several sub-par weeks by that hit's standards.
In other Thursday ratings news, ABC's "Primetime Live" presentation of Martin Bashir's "Michael Jackson's Secret World" drew only so-so returns. The two-hour feature drew an average of 8.7 million viewers, an improvement over ABC's average audience for both of its hours. However, Bashir's previous extended Jacko "Primetime Live" special, 2003's "Living with Michael Jackson," drew a mind-boggling 27 million viewers when it premiered.