“ER” clobbers “CSI” in the ratings game

For the first time in two seasons, NBC‘s ER went up against CBS‘s crime drama CSI this past Thursday night. For the first time, ER proved dominant.

Almost 29 million people watched NBC‘s hospital drama–a farewell episode for actor Eriq La Salle–according to Nielsen Media Research. Comparatively, only 17 million viewers tuned in to CSI, which was pushed up into the 10 p.m. slot by a rare Thursday-night airing of the reality series Amazing Race.

This is the only time thus far these two rating powerhouses have faced off squarely against each other.

On average, CSI attracts 23 million viewers at its 9 p.m. slot on Thursdays. The ploy to overcome ER simply did not work, due in part to CSI‘s weak lead-in, which could not sustain the momentum generated by Survivor: Africa, one of CBS‘s top-rated shows.