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Fall 2010 ratings: CBS dominates with 'Survivor' and 'The Defenders'; ABC's 'Modern Family' was the night's top-rated show in adults 18-49

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insider-ratingsImage Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC; Art Streiber/NBC; Sonja Flemming/CBSThe move to Wednesdays has done little to shake Survivor out of the victory circle: The latest installment that features ex-NFL coach Jimmy Johnson averaged 12.46 million viewers last night and helped CBS to win the night in viewers and most key demographics, including adults 18-49. In fact, CBS stayed strong throughout the night, despite heavy competition from the return of Modern Family on ABC (which won its timeslot in adults 18-49 and viewers with 12.60 million). Criminal Minds at 9 — which featured Tim Curry as one freaky looking bad guy — averaged 14.05 million viewers while the debut of The Defenders with Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell averaged an impressive 12.08 million.

But oh, how that Best Comedy Emmy helped to boost Modern Family! The show’s second season debut averaged a stunning 5.0 rating/14 share among adults 18-49 — up 19 percent versus its series premiere a year ago. It also won its 9 p.m. timeslot in most demos and viewers, and was the top-rated show of the evening. Unfortunately, the rest of the laughers in ABC’s comedy block didn’t fare as well, but they should still be celebrating over at the alphabet network: The Middle averaged 8.81 million (a series high) and the new Better With You lured 7.96 million. Courteney Cox-Arquette and her buddies on Cougar Town averaged 8.34 million. Overall, ABC tied NBC for second place in adults 18-49 last night and came in third in viewers (7.92 million).

Speaking of NBC, did you catch J.J. Abrams’ new show Undercovers? Only 8.5 million sampled the Hart to Hart-type drama at 8 p.m.. The two-hour start of Law & Order: SVU was up 23 percent versus last season’s one-hour premiere in adults 18-49 and averaged 10 million viewers. And Fox aired the two-hour premiere of Hell’s Kitchen, which ranked No. 1 among adults 18-34 and posted a 6 percent gain in eyeballs (6.56 million).

On the CW, America’s Next Top Model was flat versus last week among adults 18-34 (1.4/5), but the new Hellcats showed a 6 percent gain among women 18-34. The CW averaged 2.56 million viewers last night.