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'CSI': Post-William Petersen ratings are down...but not for long?

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Csi_lNot surprisingly, CSI has seen a dip in viewers since star William Petersen left the show Jan. 15, but no one seems to be wringing their hands at CBS. The series has only lost 8 percent of its viewers — from 19.9 million people down to 18.38 million — after Laurence Fishburne (pictured) replaced Petersen. The losses are more prominent in the all-important 18-49 demographic (the series is down 13 percent); insiders concede that some of the decreases can be attributed to growing competition from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, especially given all the interest in Izzie’s mortality of late (nope, she’s not dead…yet!).

CSI still has the ability to attract the rubberneckers. The March 5 episode featuring Taylor Swift in a guest-starring role as a murder victim averaged a hefty 20.9 million viewers — the show’s fourth-most-watched episode this year. And producers are hoping to lure even more on April 2, when CSI celebrates its 200th episode. It was directed by The Exorcist‘s William Friedkin and focuses on Mexican wrestling (and yup, there’s even a wink-wink-nod-nod to devil extractions). Other upcoming episodes feature Henry Thomas (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) as a convicted killer, and Dr. Al’s Robert David Hall delving into a mysterious disease that ravages healthy people.

addCredit(“Sonja Flemming/CBS”)