Grey's Resuscitates ER

Are the young residents at Seattle Grace breathing new life into their elders over at Chicago’s County General?

That’s the theory among network executives puzzling over the resurgence of NBC’s venerable doc-drama ER: the 13-year-old series may have ABC’s own hospital soap, Grey’s Anatomy, to thank.

After flagging in recent seasons, ER has shown renewed vigor this fall with adults 18-49 Thursdays at 10 p.m. That’s nothing short of a medical miracle given that ER’s
9 p.m. lead-in, game show Deal or No Deal, has taken a beating since ABC moved Grey’s into its time slot.

In the 9:30 half-hour, Deal slid from a 3.8 rating/9 share in week one to a 3.3/8 in week three. Last year, The Apprentice was ER’s lead-in and performed 3-4 share points better.

But ER hasn’t gone down with the drop-off.Whereas it climbed only 4 share points from The Apprentice last year, it has risen an average 7-8 shares coming out of Deal. Meanwhile, ABC has been losing 11-12 shares with Grey’s lead-out, Six Degrees.

Some NBC executives have speculated that ABC’s 9 p.m. viewers are jumping to their network at 10 looking for more medical melodrama. If that’s true, Grey’s may be the best lead-in ER has ever had.