The Big Bang Theory Owns Thursday Nights; NBC's Struggles Continue | Adweek
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CBS 'Bangs' Up Thursday Nights, NBC's Slide Continues

Grim returns for new Peacock efforts Do No Harm, 1600 Penn

CBS’ Thursday night comedy juggernaut The Big Bang Theory topped the 6.0 mark for the third time this season, running roughshod over its 8 p.m. competition.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, The Big Bang Theory drew 19 million viewers and a 6.2 in the 18-49 demo, up 15 percent from last week’s 5.4 rating. Season to date, only two other programs have reached the 6.0 threshold—NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Fox’s American Idol.

TBBT also rang up sixes in January, averaging a 6.1 in the demo on the third and a 6.4 the following week. American Idol notched a 6.0 with its Jan. 16 season premiere, but the two-hour Wednesday night show has since dropped to a 4.6 in the dollar demo.

Such a ratings monster is Sunday Night Football that its lowest delivery was a 6.7. Its biggest number of the season arrived on Sept. 9, as Peyton Manning made his debut in Denver Broncos motley against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver’s 31-18 romp scared up 27.6 million viewers and an 11.0 in the demo. (The 18-game SNF schedule averaged 21.4 million viewers and an 8.2 rating, down slightly from 21.5 million and an 8.4 a year ago.)

Also putting up big numbers on Thursday night was TBBT lead-out, Two and a Half Men. The Ashton Kutcher vehicle drew 14.1 million viewers and a 4.1 in the demo, up 5 percent from last week’s 3.9 rating. TBBT and Two and a Half Men are the only CBS prime-time shows to grow their ratings in the wake of the Super Bowl. At 9 p.m., Person of Interest averaged 14.9 million viewers and a 3.1 rating, down a tick versus the Jan. 31 installment, while Elementary closed out the night flat (2.2).

An episode of Elementary set to air in the plum post-Super Bowl slot was hampered by a record late starting time, as the 34-minute third-quarter blackout pushed the broadcast back to 11:11 p.m. EST. The show averaged 20.8 million viewers and an 8.3 in CBS’ target demo (adults 25-54).

While Person of Interest has been a workhorse in its sophomore season, the lack of a post-Super Bowl bounce is somewhat curious. According to Kantar Media, CBS’ 20-second POI promo was the most-watched commercial content in the Super Bowl broadcast, notching a 47.4 household rating at 10:31 p.m.

Other than American Idol, which averaged 13.3 million viewers and a 4.1 in the demo, much of the Thursday night news was less than spectacular. NBC’s Community returned for its fourth season under new management, drawing a respectable 1.9 rating at 8 p.m. (That’s a 36 percent increase versus the entire Season 3 average but marks a lift of just two-tenths of a ratings point when compared to its previous premiere episode.)

If Community can stay in the vicinity of that opening number, it has a shot at a renewal. What won’t be coming back for a second term is the freshman comedy 1600 Penn, which last night dropped to an average draw of 2.60 million viewers and a 1.1 in the demo. That’s a 31 percent dive from the show’s time slot premiere (1.6).

Also at death’s door is Do No Harm. After bowing to an all-time broadcast low 0.9 in the demo, the second installment of the Steven Pasquale drama eked out a 0.7.

While the Thursday 10 p.m. time slot has been a tough nut to crack since ER signed off in April 2009—subsequent occupants include The Jay Leno Show, The Marriage Ref, Prime Suspect, The Firm and Awakethe final hour of prime is giving everyone in broadcast fits, and on every night of the week. Of the eight new 10 p.m. dramas to debut in 2012-13, only two (Elementary and NBC’s Revolution) are averaging better than a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo. 

Season to date, CBS is leading the pack in total reach and the 18-49 demo, averaging 12.6 million viewers and a 3.2 (up 3 percent). After being up as much as 27 percent in the demo, the SNF- and Voice-free NBC is now flat with a 2.8, while Fox is down 24 percent (2.5) and ABC is down 12 percent with a 2.2.

As far as the ratings against which guarantees are made, NBC remains in the lead. Through Jan. 6—the most recent period for which Nielsen’s C3 data is available—the Peacock is averaging a 3.1 C3 rating, up 15 percent versus the same time one year ago. CBS and Fox are both down 19 percent in the demo, with both nets tied with a 2.1 rating, while ABC’s blend of commercial ratings and three days of time-shifted data puts it at a 2.0, down 9 percent. 

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