‘Big Bang Theory’ Series Finale Lands 18 Million Viewers

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UPDATED with fast nationals: An average of 18 million people watched the 279th and final episode of history-making hit CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory Thursday night. The finale scored a 3.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic group in its two-hour finale.

The longest running multi-cam comedy series in U.S. TV history ends its 12-season run as the top entertainment series in its final year in total viewers. It’s the first series able to make that claim since NBC’s Seinfeld did so, 21 years ago.

The 3.1 is up a modest 7% from the year-ago finale: a 2.9 on May 10, 2018. It’s the show’s high in that metric since January 11 (3.1). The last time Big Bang topped a 3.1 was its final season starter on Monday, September 25, 2018, which logged a 4.1 rating.

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In overall audience, Big Bang’s two-part sign-off averaged 17.994 million viewers according to fast national stats. That’s the show’s best since its ninth season premiere on Monday September 21, 2015, when it attracted an average of 18.203M.

And, in that inevitable Series Finale Ratings Horse Race, The Big Bang Theory out-lapped CBS’s Two and a Half Men wrap-up which clocked 13.15 million viewers on February 19, 2015, airing on a Thursday at 9 PM. Men, however, edged out Big Bang in the demo, with a 3.2 rating.

But Big Bang was no match for Everybody Loves Raymond‘s 11.2 demo rating and 32.9M viewers in its so-long, in a different broadcast TV era, way back in May of 2005 – one year after NBC’s Friends finally signed off to a crowd of 65.9 million in May of ’04.

Big Bang towered over its broadcast competition Thursday night. Following its 8 PM so-long, CBS continued to dominate with the season finale of Big Bang spinoff Young Sheldon (2.2, 13.704M), a Big Bang farewell special (1.8, 11.759M). The network took a big tumble at 10 PM  with its nonetheless-slot-winning S.W.A.T. finale (0.9, 5.991M).

CBS (2.0, 12.239M) owned the night, besting the combined efforts of ABC (0.8, 4.444M), NBC (0.6, 2.454M), Fox (0.3, 1.094M) and CW (0.2, 568K) in total viewers.

Previous: The Big Bang Theory had a good night in the metered markets; the two-part series wrapper clocked a 12.2/22 in this very early metric for Thursday primetime, jumping from penultimate week’s 8.9/16.

In this preliminary derby, in addition to jumping 37% over last week’s 8.9, the finale gained 17%  versus the 10.4 for the show’s year-ago season finale.

It’s also up 7% versus the strong proposal-cliffhanger on Monday, September 25 of 2017, (12.2 vs. 11.4), which had opened the show’s 2017-18 season resolving a proposal cliffhanger. Big Bang had opened this final season with a MM 8.4 household rating.

For quick comparison sake, here’s a metered market track of the most recent 5 originals:

05/09/19…8.9
05/02/19…8.5
04/25/19…8.2
04/18/19…7.8
04/04/19…8.4

FYI, that early stat on the penultimate episode of May 9 wound up translating to a 1.9 demo rating and 12.25 million viewers in fast nationals, topping last week’s Thursday night in all measures and winning its half-hour by 1.25 million viewers over its combined Big 4 competition. In its second-to-last week, Big Bang also had inched up a tenth in the demo compared with the previous week’s early numbers.

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