Thursday Ratings: ‘Big Bang Theory,’ ‘Scandal’ Hit Lows on Lightly Watched Night

Thursday’s two biggest series — CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and ABC’s “Scandal” — hit season lows last night as overall viewership levels were depressed on the eve of a holiday weekend. CBS, whose lineup was back after two weeks off, won the night in key demos, with its “Mom” catching “Scandal” in young adults.

According to Nielsen, only 17.8% of adults 18-24 were watching television during any average minute last night — down 16% from last week (when March Madness basketball on CBS and TBS) and 19.5% lower than last year. Spring breaks and pre-holiday happenings are the mostly likely drivers of the decline.

Looking at the Thursday numbers, “The Big Bang Theory” averaged a 3.2 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 13.4 million viewers overall in the 8 o’clock half-hour, the top show of the night but down a steep 27% (1.2) from its prior original of three weeks ago (4.4) and easily the show’s season low. A year ago, its first episode back from its college basketball break did a 4.9 rating. (Easter was later in April last year.)

“The Odd Couple” also hit lows (1.9/7 in 18-49, 8.7 million viewers overall), down 24% (0.6) from its most recent episode but retaining a similar percentage of its “Big Bang” lead-in. “Odd Couple” was followed by a special repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 8.3 million viewers overall), and a new “Mom” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall). “Mom” was down just 0.2 from its last episode and earned a share of the 18-49 time period lead at 9:30 (tied with “Scandal”). “Elementary” closed things out (1.2/4 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall), down to its lowest score since the fall but enough to win its hour among the major networks in all categories.

ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 6.6 million viewers overall), “Scandal” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 7.2 million viewers overall) and “American Crime” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) were all at season lows. “Grey’s” was down 0.2 or 0.3 from last week (depending on whether it’s revised up to a 1.9, which is possible), and “Scandal” and “American Crime” both dropped 0.2 “Scandal” and “Grey’s” remained the night’s top two dramas in 18-49.

At NBC, “Dateline” continues to be a credible performer in the 8 o’clock hour (1.3/5 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall) and is helping lead-out “The Blacklist” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers overall) avoid big drops. Though “Blacklist” matched its season low set last week, this was its most competitive finish relative to “Scandal” in 18-49, and it beat the ABC drama in total viewers for a third straight week. The finale of “The Slap” held steady (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.3 million viewers overall).

Fox’s “Bones” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.7 million viewers overall) was down 0.2 from last week’s return, and “Backstrom” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.2 million viewers overall) dropped a tenth.

CW aired special off-night repeats of “The Flash” at both 8 (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.9 million viewers overall) and 9 (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 1.9/7; ABC, 1.7/6; NBC, 1.2/4; Fox, 0.9/3; CW, 0.2/1.

In total viewers: CBS, 8.9 million; ABC, 6.2 million; NBC, 5.8 million; Fox, 3.9 million; CW, 0.9 million.

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