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TV ratings: 'How to Get Away with Murder' premiere kills for ABC

TV ratings: ABC's Thursday night block of Shonda Rhimes shows off to a strong start

ABC's Thursday night block of Shonda Rhimes shows is off to a strong start in the ratings, according to early numbers from Nielsen.

"How to Get Away With Murder," the new legal thriller starring Viola Davis, made off with an impressive 14 million viewers on average in its debut. If ratings hold, that makes it the most-watched TV show, even including CBS' "Thursday Night Football."

The series, created and executive-produced by Peter Nowalk and also executive-produced by Rhimes, scored a rating of 3.8 among key 18-to-49-year-old viewers. In that demographic, a ratings point equals about 1.3 million people. That number was the same as for the 9 p.m. series "Scandal," meaning "How to Get Away With Murder" held 100% of its lead-in.

Rhimes' other Thursday night shows posted big numbers as well. 

"Scandal," now in its fourth season and a new time slot, drew its biggest audience ever (11.9 million) and its best 18-49 rating, up 6% from last year's season opener of the Kerry Washington show. "Grey's Anatomy" earned a 3.0 in the demo, though that was down 12% from a year ago.

With the back-to-back-to-back dramas, ABC marked its strongest Thursday night in five years.

Reliable ratings for sports telecasts won't be available until later Friday, but CBS' Giants-Redskins NFL game was clearly a big draw. The preliminary numbers had it at about 12.5 million viewers.

NBC's "Biggest Loser" held steady with last week at a 1.3 in the demo, having posted generally lower numbers than last year. Meanwhile, "Parenthood's" final season kicked off with a 1.4, higher than its lead-in but down 13% from the prior season premiere.

Elsewhere, Fox had the season premiere of "Bones," which hooked 6.2 million viewers and delivered a 1.6 in 18-49. That 18-49 number is down 30% year-over-year.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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