Someone who apparently doesn't like my focus on age demos called me narrowminded in some comparisons between The Office and CSI. I'll note that this person trashed talked The Office's numbers. I never trash talked CSI. I was about to give CSI props for being the most watched show on Thursday, beating out even American Idol, but when the final numbers were reported it did not.
While Idol did wind up besting CSI narrowly in total viewers, I think any show that can surpass 20 million viewers these days is extremely impressive. There are only a handful of them really. Both CSI and The Office benefited from there not being any new Grey's Anatomy and I imagine both will feel it, especially in the 18-49 demo when Grey's returns.
Here are the final numbers and as a bonus, Some Step it Up & Dance numbers for you Bravo fans courtesy of Marc Berman's forums and Travis Yanan (new shows only):
SHOW/NET HH A18-49 Viewers
ELI STONE 4.0/7 1.8/5 5,879,000
SURVIVOR 6.8/11 3.9/11 11,587,000
CSI 12.5/19 5.9/15 20,094,000
WITHOUT A TRACE (10:01pm) 9.7/16 3.8/10 14,493,000
MY NAME IS EARL 4.4/7 3.1/9 7,086,000
30 ROCK 3.7/6 2.7/7 5,771,000
THE OFFICE 5.4/8 4.9/12 9,334,000
SCRUBS (9:31pm) 4.1/6 3.4/8 6,579,000
E.R. (10:01pm) 5.2/9 3.1/8 7,523,000
AMERICAN IDOL 12.0/19 7.0/19 20,133,000
DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS 6.6/10 4.0/10 10,895,000
STEP IT UP & DANCE 0.5/1 0.3/1 633,000
I'm not all that narrow minded about the shows themselves, but this being a site focusing on numbers, I'm myopic as hell in taking the numeric view so, so much. But hey, that's what we're here for. I think CSI is great and that CBS makes a lot of money on it. Plus, it's on for twice as long as the typical airing of The Office. But The Office is much cheaper to make. In terms of profit, they're surely both very profitable but without having the actual numbers for advertising, syndication, DVD sales, I can't even make a guess at profit numbers.
I'm guessing The Office clears more $/viewer, but CSI has many more viewers, so CBS doesn't likely sweat that. Nonetheless, numerically I think the feat The Office pulled off last night was more amazing. On so many fewer viewers than CSI where CSI had 115% more viewers, 131% more households watching, 138% more share of televisions turned on but only 20% more 18-49 households. Absolutely none of that is said to belittle CSI, CBS (and you or me or especially NBC!) would take CSI's numbers every time. I'm not belittling CSI, I just think that what The Office pulled off last night was amazing! Even if Grey's Anatomy wasn't on.
Update, Daniel C. pointed out in a comment reminding me of the Ad Age survey for the cost of a 30 second spot. While I have no clue how accurate any of that is in the post-strike world, if we use it to calculate 30 second spot ad revenue per viewer it works out to be $.02/viewer for Office and $.0123/CSI viewer, but CBS does make it up both in volume of viewers and in having twice as many spots.