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‘Big Bang Theory’ Draws Largest Audience Ever As CBS Dominates Thursday

It, other comedies on the net (and NBC) gain vs. less-than-stellar competition from ABC, Fox

CBS’ Thursday comedy lineup, in the absence of football competition for the first time this season and continuing to face softer programming than usual on ABC and Fox, posted their best scores in months and teamed with “Elementary” to lift the net to a dominant victory in all key demos.

Fox’s “American Idol” makes its Thursday debut next week, which figures to make life more difficult for the competition.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “The Big Bang Theory” averaged a monster 5.6 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 and 20.1 million viewers overall in kicking off the night — up about 4% from last week for the show’s best demo delivery in 11 months and its largest overall audience ever for a regularly scheduled episode. “Big Bang” was Thursday’s No. 1 broadcast in every category from kids 2-11 (1.9/7) to adults 55 and older (11.2/20).

It led into the night’s No. 2 program, “The Millers” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 13.6 million viewers overall), which was up 18% in adults 18-49 and 22% in men 18-49 from the previous week, when it coincided with the start of the Sugar Bowl (Alabama-Oklahoma) on ESPN. Depending on how it shakes out in the nationals (it typically is adjusted downward slightly), “The Millers” could match its series high in 18-49 (3.3 for its premiere) or perhaps equal its second best delivery (a 3.2 on Oct. 17).

The Eye also had good comedy news at 9 p.m., where the timeslot-leading “The Crazy Ones” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) and “Two and a Half Men” (2.4/7 in 18-49, 9.5 million viewers overall) posted their best scores since October, with the former up 20% (0.4) and the latter rising 9% (0.2) week-to-week. Closing out the night, “Elementary” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall) led its hour, growing 10% from last week in 18-49 to deliver its best ratings in all categories since the opening two weeks of the season.

Elsewhere, NBC’s comedy block also was on the upswing, with “Community” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall) up a tick from its week-earlier season premiere and “Parks and Recreation” retaining that audience (1.4/4 in 18-49, 3.4 million viewers overall) as it celebrated its 100th episode with season highs. Despite the uptick for “Community” (which was also up 17% from its second episode of last season, a 1.2), it still drew just one-fourth the 18-49 audience of timeslot rival “Big Bang Theory.”

Rookie half-hours “Sean Saves the World” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) and “The Michael J. Fox Show” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall) both were up 25% (0.2) from their low returns of last week. And at 10, “Parenthood” (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall) was flat week to week in 18-49 to match its top score since Oct. 3 while drawing its largest overall audience since its Sept. 26 season premiere.

ABC’s cooking competition “The Taste” (1.3/3 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) was up a tick from its week-ago prelim score (1.2, which grew to a 1.2 in the nationals). And at 10 p.m., the second week of “The Assets” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 2.9 million viewers overall) dropped a tenth from its DOA premiere to post the smallest demo score of any firstrun Big Four drama telecast this season.

Fox aired special repeats of Monday drama “Sleepy Hollow” (averaging a 0.7/2 in 18-49 and 2.4 million viewers overall), and CW went with encores of its Thursday regulars “The Vampire Diaries” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 1.0 million viewers overall) and “Reign” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.9 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.0/9; NBC and Univision, 1.2/3; ABC, 1.0/3; Fox, 0.7/2; Telemundo, 0.6/2; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 12.1 million; ABC, 4.0 million; NBC, 3.6 million; Univision, 3.2 million; Fox, 2.4 million; Telemundo, 1.4 million; CW, 0.9 million.

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