Both Grey's Anatomy And The Big Bang Theory Hit Series Lows In The Ratings

The Big Bang Theory Kaley Cuoco Penny CBS

Why are we seeing series lows and not highs for The Big Bang Theory's final episodes? It's true that people watch TV very differently these days, but "these days" aren't that different from, say, several months ago. So why is TBBT going out with a relative whimper?

I say relative, because Big Bang Theory Season 12, Episode 19, "The Inspiration Deprivation," still earned 11.7 million viewers and a 1.8 rating in the 18-49 demo.

That was the best of Thursday, April 18, so if you're talking direct competition, it won. But if you're talking competing against yourself, it lost. That 1.8 rating was a series low, and the 11.7 million was a low for the final season so far.

The Big Bang Theory was not alone in its disappointment. Grey's Anatomy Season 15, Episode 22 also hit a series low in the 18-49 demo with its 1.2 rating. The April 18 episode earned 6.10 million viewers, TV By the Numbers reports, which also appears to be a low for this season so far.

In both cases, the lows were not by too much. But you never want to trend down as you approach a season finale, never mind a series finale in The Big Bang Theory's case. A series low 18-49 for Grey's Anatomy sounds troubling, but the DVR Live + 7 Day numbers for the show still look good -- and we know Grey's just keeps picking up new fans through Netflix, where it has been extremely popular (although it may be leaving the streamer soon).

Grey's Anatomy Season 15 Episode 22 Kelly McCreary Maggie

Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo already has a deal through Season 16, so even though ABC has yet to announce Season 16, it's pretty much inevitable. But are these new ratings figures a warning that the show is starting its gentle descent? Will Season 16 be The End? Every time The Powers That Be think Grey's Anatomy will be winding down, it finds new life again. So I'm not quite worried yet. As long as Shonda Rhimes and team know the stories they want to tell, they can keep telling them.

In terms of other shows, Gotham's penultimate episode earned 2.07 million viewers and a 0.6 rating in the 18-49 demo, which was even with its previous episode. Gotham is another show I might've expected to spike for its final season. It would even make sense if The Big Bang Theory and Grey's Anatomy slipped because more people were curious about Gotham's endgame. Not the case, it seems.

Maybe viewers are struggling to even figure out when these shows are airing new episodes. There's no consistency out there. Gotham was off for several weeks -- since March 21 -- and maybe not everyone knew it was back? Or maybe they'd gotten in the habit of not watching it Thursday night and they'll catch it on DVR later in the week.

CBS' Mom also hit a season low at 1.0 in the 18-49 demo. Brooklyn Nine-Nine slipped to tie a season low 0.5. S.W.A.T. actually improved its ratings a bit with 0.8. Pretty much everything else was steady, although NBC's Superstore tied a season high with a 0.9 rating.

Most of the shows above are heading to their season (or series) finale dates in the next few weeks, although a few will keep going as the summer 2019 shows prepare to arrive. What shows -- if any -- do you watch "live" Thursday night, and which do you catch later on DVR/demand/streaming?

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.