“Young Sheldon” is growing up, but that doesn’t mean CBS’ “Big Bang Theory” spinoff is getting better with age.
On Thursday, “Young Sheldon” premiered its first season without “The Big Bang Theory” as its lead-in, suffering series lows as a result. The spinoff starring Iain Armitage as the kid version of Jim Parson’s Sheldon Cooper managed a 1.0 rating in the important adults 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen.
The rating made “Young Sheldon” the third highest-rated entertainment show on broadcast last night, behind only ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 16 premiere at 8 p.m. and the show that immediately followed it, the Season 2 start for “A Million Little Things” at 9.
So it was Thursday’s highest-rated comedy.
And with 8.1 million total viewers, “Young Sheldon” was the most-watched primetime entertainment series on Thursday. We keep specifying “entertainment” here because the show was also facing off against Fox’s season premiere of “Thursday Night Football,” which dwarfed all other programming, as NFL games always do.
On their faces (especially the 8-plus million viewers), those numbers don’t look so bad. Looking at them side-by-side with the recent “Big Bang” days of CBS, though, they tell a different story.
This week’s season 3 premiere “Sheldon” fell 41% below last year’s season premiere in the key demo, and fell 24% in total viewers. And the decline wasn’t just because of the fall football competition: The episode was also down from last year’s season average by the same 41% in the demo, and down 28% in total viewers.
It’s important to point out here that we’re using Nielsen’s Live + Same Day ratings, as those are all we currently have for Thursday’s “Young Sheldon” episode.
That said, a CBS rep told TheWrap that the network expects the “Sheldon” Season 3 premiere episode to grow 55% to a 1.6 rating and +34% to nearly 11 million total viewers when a week of DVR viewing gets added in.
Even so, that rating would be a 38% drop from last year’s Live +7 Day season-long average. The total audience count would be at least 25% lower.
Last season, “Big Bang” premiered its final run to a 2.5 rating and 12.9 million total viewers. That episode, like the Season 2 premiere of “Young Sheldon,” took place on a Monday.
“The Big Bang Theory” went on to average a 2.3 rating and 13.3 million viewers for its final season.
In an effort to goose Week 1 (and perhaps to try to win the first night of the season) averages, CBS scheduled “Big Bang Theory” (“BBT”) and “Young Sheldon” on both Monday and Thursday of Premiere Week 2018.
In the same Premiere-Week-Thursday-at-8-p.m.-on-CBS time slot last year, “BBT” posted a 2.2 rating and 12 million total viewers. Remember, that wasn’t technically the season premiere, just its time slot premiere. Behind it, “Sheldon” drew a 1.6 rating and had 10.2 million viewers.
In other words, “Young Sheldon” is no “Big Bang Theory.” Not by a long shot. And we’re just now learning exactly how much “Big Bang” directly boosted “Young Sheldon.”
To be fair to the network, “Young Sheldon” starts this season in a new, earlier time period, which means some fans may have missed it last night. Now a self-starter at 8 o’clock, “Sheldon” has to launch the night for the whole primetime lineup.
Plus, the “Young Sheldon” Season 3 premiere will be the most-watched comedy of the Fall TV premiere week. (But not the highest-rated, that will be “Modern Family,” which got a 1.1 rating in the key demo with its final-season premiere on Wednesday.)