Ratings giants "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Idol" on Thursday night faced off for the first time this season, resulting in declines for both, while comedy-driven CBS laughed away with a clear win. Meanwhile, NBC scored with "Saturday Night Live" clips of sports sketches.
"The Big Bang Theory" was off for the first couple of weeks of "American Idol's" 13th season. Thursday night's "Big Bang" episode drew an average of 18.9 million viewers overall, and a rating of 5.1 in the advertiser-desired 18-49 age group, according to early numbers from Nielsen. In the key demo, that represents a 11% drop from its last original episode, though it was still the night's highest-rated show.
The rest of CBS' comedy block was also down against "Idol." "The Millers," "The Crazy Ones" and "Two and a Half Men" all posted double-digit percentage declines in the key demo. "Elementary" was flat with last week's 2.0 rating, though it scored its biggest audience since its season premiere (10.2 million). CBS was the highest-rated network with an average of 2.6 in the demo and 11.3 million viewers overall.
"Idol," still in traveling-auditions mode, drew 11.2 million viewers and a 3.1 in 18-49, down about 6% from last week. However, it managed to grow week-to-week in the younger 18-34 category. Fox's new Greg Kinnear legal drama, "Rake," fell 24% from last week's modest debut to a rating of 1.3 in 18-49.
On NBC, "Community" and "Parks & Recreation" were both steady week-to-week, despite the "Idol" competition. The network capped off the night with a strong pre-Super Bowl showing from the two-hour clip show "Saturday Night Live Presents a SNL Sports Spectacular," which averaged 4.7 million viewers and a 1.8 demo rating.
ABC's only original programming was "The Taste," down 9% from last week to a 1.0.
On the CW, "Vampire Diaries" fell 16% to a 1.0 in 18-49, and "Reign" rose a tick to a 0.7.