This week is arguably the biggest week for TV audiences, with all the major networks bringing out the bulk of their anticipated premieres, both for new and returning series. CBS had a lot on the line with the twofer of The Big Bang Theory Season 11 and Young Sheldon's series debut arriving for the first time, and the network absolutely won big. Big Bang's proposal reveal was watched by just under 17 million people on Monday night, with Young Sheldon retaining a huge chunk of that total, making it to 16.5 million viewers. [impressed whistle]
Now, we always expect The Big Bang Theory to come out of the gate crushing the competition, but this year was good even by past standards, and possibly indicates a reversal of downward ratings spirals. While many current shows premiere to fewer viewers than their previous years, The Big Bang Theory's 16.97 million-strong audience to kick off Season 11 was a hefty margin larger than the Season 10 opener, which brought in 15.82 million people. And even though last year's premiere handled the quasi-cliffhanger about Sheldon's mom and Leonard's dad, "The Proposal Proposal" was legitimately anticipated to see how Amy would react to Sheldon popping the question, as well as to him getting kissed by another woman. (Here's how that went, as well as the other big surprise the episode gave fans.)
As far as the key 18-49 adult demographic went, The Big Bang Theory earned a pretty stellar 3.9 rating. Both that stat and its viewership total towered above all other networks' premieres, including ABC's The Good Doctor (11.82 million/2.4 rating), The Voice (10.37/2.6), and The Brave (6.17/1.4), among others. You know what else toppled all those shows' numbers? Young Sheldon.
Starring Iain Armitage as the titular past version of The Big Bang Theory's lead, Young Sheldon arrived as mightily as a series premiere can, with 16.57 million people tuning in. It's bonkers to see any TV show hold onto that much of the audience from a previous timeslot, although it obviously makes sense here, given how closely the series are related. And even though Young Sheldon is inherently nothing like the flagship sitcom, in that it's a family dramedy that doesn't feature a studio audience, audiences and critics alike seem to be pleased with what Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro put together.
Not only did it rock out in total viewers, but Young Sheldon also earned an excellent 3.7 demo rating, another tiny percentage drop from Big Bang's audience. Now, Young Sheldon viewers are at a disadvantage here, since this was a "special night" airing. The show won't be returning next week, and will be replaced by the very poorly reviewed new comedy 9JKL. (It isn't just the name getting panned.) Will fans remember to stick around whenever the Southern spinoff Young Sheldon returns to CBS in a little over a month? Probably, since it'll still be airing after The Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang Theory will be airing every Monday night on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET until November, when it'll switch to Thursday nights. Not coincidentally, Young Sheldon will put its official Season 1 stamp on CBS on Thursday, November 2, at 8:30 p.m. ET. To see when all the other big shows are showing up during the primetime hours, head to our fall premiere schedule.