Even in repeats, 'Big Bang' proves a ratings force

Behind the strength of “American Idol” and the return of an original “Glee” after a six-week layoff, Fox won the ratings battle Thursday night. Yet even in repeats, “The Big Bang Theory” proved a muscular force as well.

“American Idol” drew a 5.1 rating/14 share in the 18-49 demo and 15.5 million overall viewers, according to early estimates from Nielsen. That was easily enough to make it both the highest rated and most-watched show of the night, although it was down 9% in the demo and off about 700,000 from the two-hour telecast a week ago.

The closest competition “Idol” had in Thursday’s was from 8-8:30 p.m. with a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” (3.1/9, 11.4m). In that half-hour, “Idol” registered a 4.7/13, 14.4m.

CBS, in fact, aired nothing but repeats for the night. “Big Bang” was followed “Two and a Half Men” (2.3/6, 8.5m) before the Eye shifted to its procedurals — “Person of Interest” (1.9/5, 10m) and “Elementary” (1.5/4, 7.7m).

“Person of Interest” didn’t have enough strength to hold off Fox’s “Glee” (2.7/7, 6.8m), which saw a 35% increase since returning for the first time since Dec. 13.

Over on ABC, Thursday marked the series finale for “Last Resort.” The Andre Braugher submarine drama marked a 1.2/3, 5.3m for its final voyage, a slight uptick from last week. Viewers returned to the Alphabet, however, for a new episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” (3.0/8, 8.8m), which handily won the 9 o’clock hour and was flat from a week ago.

And even though it was also in repeat mode, “Scandal” was best at 10 p.m. with a 1.8/5, 5.7m.

NBC aired all originals but still ended up in fourth place. Of it’s 8-10 p.m. comedy block, best was “The Office” (2.0/5, 4.1m) at 9 p.m. “30 Rock” (1.4/4, and a season high 3.8m) and “Parks & Recreation” (1.7/5, 3.8m) were interestingly identical in total viewership. Bad news for the Peacock, though, is that “1600 Penn” still doesn’t seem to be finding much traction. Although the Josh Gad laffer was up 8% from last week with a 1.3/3, 3.3m both in the demo and overall audience, the show did lose 35% of its demo and 800,000 viewers from “The Office” lead-in. And that was while the other nets were into the second half of hourlong dramas.

In other words, viewers were likely to turn off their televisions or watch cable than switch to a different broadcast network rather than watch “1600 Penn.”

At the CW, “The Vampire Diaries” (1.3/4, 2.7m) was a notch below last week while “Beauty and the Beast” (0.7/2, 1.8m) was slightly up from its last original.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 3.9/10; CBS, 2.0/5; ABC, 2.0/5; Univision, 1.4/4; NBC, 1.3/4; CW, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 11.2 million; CBS, 9.2 million; ABC, 6.6 million; Univision, 4 million; NBC, 3.7 million; CW, 2.2 million

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