U.S. Standard Ratings
The Big Bang Theory has been highly rated since its premiere. During its fourth season, it became television's highest rated comedy, just barely beating out eight-year champ Two and a Half Men. However, in the age 18–49 demographic (the show's target age range), it was the second highest rated comedy, behind ABC's Modern Family. The fifth season opened with viewing figures of over 14 million. The sixth season boasts some of the highest-rated episodes for the show so far, with a new series high set with "The Bakersfield Expedition" (Season 6, Episode 13), with 20 million viewers, a first for the series, which along with NCIS, made CBS the first network to have two scripted series reach that large an audience in the same week since 2007. Showrunner Steve Molaro, who took over from Bill Prady with the sixth season, credits this to the sitcom's exposure in syndication, particularly on TBS, while Michael Schneider of TV Guide attributes it to the timeslot move two season earlier. Chuck Lorre and CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler also credit the success to the influence of Molaro, in particular the deepening exploration of the firmly established regular characters and their interpersonal relationships, such as the on-again, off-again relationship between Leonard and Penny.
When the third season premiered on September 21, 2009, The Big Bang Theory ranked as CBS's highest-rated show of that evening in the adults 18–49 demographic (4.6/10) along with a then-series-high 12.83 million viewers. CBS moved the show to Thursdays at 8:00 ET for the 2010–2011 schedule.
Some of the show's success can be attributed to the 2010 timeslot move, the influence of showrunner Steve Molaro (who took over from Bill Prady) on the characters' storylines, and the series' exposure in off-network syndication (program reruns on stations outside of CBS). Thus far throughout the 2012–13 season, The Big Bang Theory has usually placed first place in all of syndication ratings, receiving formidable competition only from Wheel of Fortune (first-run syndication). If the show is to be named the highest rated syndication offering by the completion of the 2012–13 season, it will have dethroned Judge Judy (first-run syndication) which was the syndication leader in the 2011–12 season but has been in 3rd place throughout much of the 2012–13 season.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Season premiere||Season finale||TV season||No. of
|Most watched episode||Viewers
|1||September 24, 2007||May 19, 2008||2007–08||17||68||8.31||"The Dumpling Paradox"||9.68|
|2||September 22, 2008||May 11, 2009||2008–09||23||44||10.00||"The Maternal Capacitance"||13.11|
|3||September 21, 2009||May 24, 2010||2009–10||23||12||14.14||"The Precious Fragmentation"||16.32|
|4||September 23, 2010||May 19, 2011||2010–11||24||15||13.14||"The Robotic Manipulation"||14.04|
|5||September 22, 2011||May 10, 2012||2011–12||24||8||15.82||"The Friendship Contraction"||16.54|
|6||September 27, 2012||May 16, 2013||2012–13||24||3||18.68||"The Bakersfield Expedition"||20.00|
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