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Sheldon Cooper sets Monday pace

UPDATED: The one-hour season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory" was the biggest show Monday, the first night of the new TV season.

Early ratings show that Sheldon Cooper and his gang drew 18 million viewers in the 8 p.m. hour, according to ratings released Tuesday afternoon. "Big Bang" delivered a big audience to "Scorpion," which is a dramatic "Big Bang." "Scorpion" averaged an impressive 13.8 million against heavy competition.

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In cable, ESPN's "Monday Night Football" averaged 13.3 million viewers.  The Chicago Bears beat the New York Jets, 27-19.

"The Voice" started a new season with 13 million viewers for NBC. "Dancing With the Stars" entered its second week with 12.8 million for ABC.

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Fox trailed all that competition: "Gotham" debuted to 8.2 million viewers, and "Sleepy Hollow" started its second season with 5.5 million. But Fox said "Gotham" was the No. 1 drama of the night with men in the 18-to-49 and 18-to-34 age groups.

At 10 p.m. NBC's "The Blacklist" started its second season with 12.3 million viewers. ABC's "Forever" debuted to 8.6 million. "Under the Dome" on CBS ended its second season with 7.5 million fans.

The prime-time averages for the broadcast networks: CBS with 13.2 million, NBC with 12.8 million, ABC with 11.4 million, Fox with 6.9 million and The CW with 760,000. But NBC edged CBS for leadership in the 18-to-49 age group. "The Big Bang Theory" was the night's most popular broadcast with young adults.

In Orlando, the top programs were the "Big Bang" episodes: The 8 p.m. with 271,872 viewers and the 8:30 episode with 265,765.

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The next five programs were "The Voice" with 198,682, "Monday Night Football" with 197,091 and "Dancing With the Stars" with 177,127.

Other strong performers: "The Blacklist" with 173,937 viewers, "Forever" with 172,573, "Scorpion" with 161,809 and "Gotham" with 154,342. The results were weaker for "Sleepy Hollow" (91,131) and "Under the Dome" (87,877).

Favorites of the local 18-to-49 age group were the first "Big Bang," "Monday Night Football," "The Voice," the second "Big Bang" and "Forever."

CBS projected that with Live +7 Day ratings the audiences for "Big Bang" No. 1 could climb to 24.9 million viewers and "Big Bang" No. 2 could reach 25.2 million. The early ratings give just a snapshot of how the programs fared.

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