Fall TV shows: How ‘Big Bang Theory’ dominated premiere week

Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in CBS' "The Big Bang Theory."
Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.”
(Michael Yarish / Warner Bros. TV )

Broadcasters spent millions of dollars promoting their new fall shows, but it was CBS’ returning sitcom smash “The Big Bang Theory” that came out on top.

The comedy about the dating travails of CalTech nerds hit its all-time highest audience ever with a special episode at 8:30 p.m. Thursday that drew 20.4 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That made it the top-performing entertainment program of the week that ended Sunday, a period that saw the networks unveil many of their latest shows. (Sunday’s New England-Atlanta football game on NBC was No. 1, with 20.5 million.)

“Big Bang’s” victory helped carry CBS to its fifth straight premiere-week victory in total viewers.

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The networks earned some mixed results for the week overall. Five new shows landed in the Top 20 in the crucial adults ages 18 to 49 demographic: ABC’s comic caper “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”; CBS’ Robin Williams comedy “The Crazy Ones”; NBC’s thriller “Blacklist”; Fox’s fantasy “Sleepy Hollow”; and ABC’s comedy “The Goldbergs.”

But there were some notable asterisks. “Crazy Ones” had a big lead-in from “Big Bang” and lost many of those viewers -- an ominous sign for the future. It was a similar story for “Blacklist,” which shed a quarter of its lead-in from NBC’s singing contest “The Voice” among young adults.

CBS and Fox were both down compared with last season in 18 to 49, while NBC (which won the week in that category) and ABC posted small gains. There were also some notable flops, including ABC’s drama “Lucky 7" and NBC’s heavily promoted comedy “The Michael J. Fox Show.”

Broadcasters were also mostly sidelined on Sunday, when AMC scheduled the finale of its acclaimed drama “Breaking Bad,” which drew more than 10 million viewers at 9 p.m. “Breaking Bad” had more viewers than any broadcast program that night except for NBC’s NFL game and CBS’ newsmagazine “60 Minutes.”


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