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Ratings: ‘Big Bang’ Up, Tops Thursday; ‘Running Wild’ Special With Obama Modest

UPDATED WITH FINALS: On a night that featured specials and repeats on most networks, CBS rolled behind “The Big Bang Theory” while NBC was able to generate only modest interest for its one-off special episode of summer series “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” featuring President Obama.

According to national estimates from Nielsen, “The Big Bang Theory” averaged a 4.1 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 17.22 million viewers overall to easily stand as the night’s No. 1 program. It was up 0.3 week to week to for its top rating since moving to Thursdays in early November, and this was the show’s largest overall audience since its season premiere.

“Big Bang” was followed by original episodes of “Life in Pieces” (2.2/8 in 18-49, 10.26 million viewers overall), “Mom” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.95 million viewers overall), “2 Broke Girls” (1.6/6 in 18-49, 6.92 million viewers overall) and “Elementary” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 5.91 million viewers overall). “Life in Pieces” had its second best rating to date (behind only its premiere), and this represented a season high for “Mom.”

At NBC, repeats of holiday specials “How Murray Saved Christmas” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 2.20) and “Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 3.52 million viewers overall) were followed by “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.55 million viewers overall), featuring President Obama as the special celebrity competitor. “Running Wild” built by 50% on its lead-in, but the 0.9 tied with its summer low when it had the benefit of airing behind “American Ninja Warrior.” The special did seem to bring more older viewers to “Running Wild,” though, as it was up more than 20% from its most recent episode in early September.

ABC placed second among the broadcasters on Thursday with holiday specials “Disney Prep & Landing” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.39 million viewers overall) and “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.22 million viewers overall), a repeat “Modern Family” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.22 million viewers overall) and a 90-minute version of the annual special “Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 6.24 million viewers overall), which beat out “Running Wild” head-to-head. Last year’s “Most Fascinating” rated higher (1.4 in 18-49, 7.8 million), but it aired on a Sunday behind an original episode of “Once Upon a Time.”

Fox aired the special “American Country Christmas’ Top 10 Stories of 2015” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 2.68 million viewers overall) and a special episode of Friday series “World’s Funniest” (0.5/2 in 18-49, 1.77 million viewers overall). And CW went with the 90-minute special “iHeart Radio Jinge Ball” (0.4/2 in 18-49, 1.19 million viewers overall), followed by a repeat of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.84 million viewers overall).

On cable, NFL Network had its lowest-rated game of the season with its matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams (2.0/7 in 18-49, 5.99 million viewers overall). Last season’s lowest numbers came in the same week for Tennessee-Jacksonville (1.6/5 in 18-49, 4.85 million).

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