'The Big Bang Theory' Scores Highest Ratings Ever (Again)
'The Big Bang Theory' Scores Highest Ratings Ever (Again)
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
For the third time this season, The Big Bang Theory has achieved new highs in the ratings. Thursday's new episode, in which Sheldon Cooper was accused of sexual harassment by his assistant, was watched by 19.25 million viewers.

The show's previous ratings record came on November 15 with 17.63 million, and one week before that it hit its previous high of 16.68 million. In fact, the show's past six new episodes are its six highest-rated episodes of all-time. But this new benchmark catapults the show into new air and makes the unimaginable goal of 20 million seem attainable.

These numbers are positively astounding for a sitcom in today's overcrowded TV market. With countless cable channels and DVR usage increasing, most shows are seeing dwindling Nielsen numbers. But for The Big Bang Theory, the sky's the limit.

In the past seven years, only four other sitcom episodes have topped The Big Bang Theory's latest record. The first two episodes of Ashton Kutcher's run on Two and a Half Men each brought over 20 million and his first episode helped boost the series premiere of 2 Broke Girls to 19.37 million viewers. The fourth episode is the post-Super Bowl airing of The Office with 22.9 million.

While 19 million might be par for NCIS, it's a completely different thing for a half-hour sitcom. Compared to other comedies on television, Modern Family's all-time high is 14.53 million. Meanwhile, this season comedies like 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Up All Night, The New Normal, Whitney, Guys with Kids, Happy Endings, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Raising Hope, Ben and Kate, New Girl and The Mindy Project can't even do better than 5 million viewers per episode.

The massive success of The Big Bang Theory this season has a few factors. First has to be syndication. TBS is rerunning The Big Bang Theory more than 20 times each week and scoring more than 3 million viewers per episode (beating many NEW comedies on the major networks).

Second is lack of competition. This week in particular was good for The Big Bang Theory as ABC, NBC and The CW all aired reruns while FOX aired a new episode of Mobbed. Those four other major networks, combined, got less than half as many viewers as The Big Bang Theory's new episode Thursday night.

But even without reruns, The Big Bang Theory's competition this season has been the already-cancelled Last Resort, the slowly-dying X Factor and NBC's unwatched comedy line-up.

The end result is the same. The Big Bang Theory is one of the biggest sitcoms ever, nearing the level of massive success shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends and Seinfeld had. But with all the cable competition, its achievement may be even more impressive than those shows.

Now only one question remains: How much longer will the Emmys wait to reward its success with the award for Outstanding Comedy Series? Everybody Loves Raymond didn't win its first Comedy Series Emmy until season 7 while Friends had to wait until season 8. There's no doubt that The Big Bang Theory, currently in season 6, has plenty of time left to reach this goal, but will this be the year? Or will Modern Family become only the second show in Emmy history to four-peat (the first being Frasier, which won five consecutive Comedy Series Emmys)?

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(Image courtesy of CBS)