Friday, August 13, 2021

The War of 18-49, Young Sheldon

Big Bang's Big Spin-off

It took nearly a decade, but in fall 2017 CBS finally came out with its first spin-off of longtime megahit comedy The Big Bang Theory. They aired together on Premiere Monday in fall 2017 and had one of the biggest comedy explosions in recent memory: Big Bang averaged a 4.1 demo (a series high 373 Plus) and Young Sheldon held onto almost all of it with a 3.8. Big Bang remained on Monday for a month longer, as CBS was still airing Thursday Night Football at this time, but Sheldon did not return until the Thursday slot opened up in early November. Sheldon's 2.3 demo was down about 40% from that huge premiere night, but it stayed very close to that for most of the rest of the season and even popped up to some mid-2's in January. In the end, Sheldon posted a 202 Plus average for the season, making it the biggest new comedy of the entire A18-49+ era.

The 2018-19 season was the announced final season for Big Bang, and while it was still at megahit levels, it was mostly a little weaker than the previous season. And Sheldon's retention got a little worse; Big Bang was usually in the low-2's and Sheldon in the high-1's until late in the season, when Sheldon dropped to some mid-1's. They were still an undeniably potent combination, with Sheldon off just 11% in Plus from its huge rookie season.

The Heir to the Thursday Lead-off Slot

But a new challenge awaited Young Sheldon in season three: opening Thursday night as Big Bang had in the previous nine seasons. It was quickly apparent that Sheldon would not step right in at the same strength level. It opened season three with just a 1.1 demo on Premiere Thursday, easily a new series low, and it spent pretty much the whole season hanging around a 1.0. That added up to a 128 Plus, down by almost 30% from its last season alongside TBBT, and not even half of what the peak TBBT seasons were doing.

Fortunately, it didn't get much worse from there, at least in season four; the show opened the season with a somewhat alarming 0.7, but perked up nicely in the winter with a bunch of 0.8's and 0.9's. Even after spring declines, it was down just 7% in Plus. It may not be Big Bang, but it's the best CBS can do right now, and the network rewarded it with a three-season renewal in spring 2021. With veteran Mom off the schedule in 2021-22, Sheldon will be asked to carry even more of a load on Thursday alongside a bunch of young guns.

Adults 18-49 info by season:

12017-18Thursday 8:302.211.83.8detailA
32019-20Thursday 8:001.05-39%0.91.3detailC

Historical-adjusted ratings by season:

22018-19180big hit0.77-11%150222181222


The War of 18-49 chronicles the ratings history of veteran primetime series. For more, see the Index.

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