Following the big star-studded wedding in its Season 11 finale, The Big Bang Theory returned for its Season 12 premiere this week, and viewers got to tag along on Sheldon and Amy's honeymoon, while Leonard and Penny found ways to compare and contrast their relationship with that of Amy's parents. It was an important debut, seeing as how this is Big Bang Theory's final season, and the fans turned up for it (and its lead-out spinoff Young Sheldon) in droves. When the LEGO dust settled, nearly 13 million viewers were accounted for, and "The Conjugal Configuration" handily beat out everything else in primetime that evening.
This week is the biggest week of the year when it comes to broadcast network premieres, with The Big Bang Theory making its usual debut on Monday evening, even though Season 12 isn't being detoured by Thursday Night Football anymore, with CBS no longer airing those games. And to be expected, fans were ready and waiting to see how things played out -- 12.92 million fans, to be slightly more exact. The closest thing to it was Young Sheldon, which brought in a total of 10.58 million people, with ABC's Lost-esque mystery Manifest premiere scoring a very impressive 10.40 million viewers.
Not only did it win out in total viewers, but The Big Bang Theory's premiere also killed it in the key 18-49 age demographic, where it earned a 2.5 rating, according to TVByTheNumbers. That's high above what average primetime series bring in on a normal basis. Manifest managed to make it to the second-place spot here, with a 2.2 rating. Young Sheldon's was a 1.7, which is still impressive, but the dramedy also got beat out by The Voice's blind auditions premiere, which scored a 2.0 demo rating. This won't be the last time the CBS sitcom wins out in this stat category this season, you can count on it.
For all that The Big Bang Theory succeeded over everything else, and on a night with some very high-profile competition, both of these Season 12 premiere numbers actually pale in comparison to how many people watched the first episodes for the past few seasons. It's actually the lowest total since the 9.36 million that tuned in for the Season 2 premiere, which aired back in 2008. Of course, Season 11 started off with Amy's reaction to Sheldon's proposal, and Season 10 started off with the aftermath of Leonard and Penny's second wedding, and Season 9 kicked off with Sheldon and Amy breaking up while Leonard and Penny's first wedding was happening. So, in the scheme of things, there just weren't any gigantic plot devices clamoring to be seen in this year's opener. Although I guess the various chips on Mrs. Fowler's shoulders are gigantic enough to be considered plot devices.
With hopefully many guest stars on the way, The Big Bang Theory's final season will continue airing on Thursday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET, with Episode 2 airing this week. Stay tuned to see how well its normal time slot premiere does in the ratings, and head to our fall TV premiere schedule to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.