Fans of CBS comedy juggernaut, The Big Bang Theory, may find the nerds’ nemesis — sports — crowding out the adventures of Sheldon and the gang this coming fall. That’s because the network has picked up the rights to show eight NFL games on Thursday nights, which right now belongs to The Eye’s top-rated comedy bloc.
The Big Bang Theory attracts more than 20 million viewers every Thursday at 8. However, professional football is also a huge ratings force, and Thursday Night Football may be the only chance that CBS will have to compete with NBC’s airing of Sunday Night Football. As Ella Fitzgerald sang, when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object, “something’s gotta give.” Which will it be, America’s favorite misfits or America’s favorite sport?
Some think that The Big Bang Theory will either be moved back to its original Monday night slot, where it had huge success, or make it part of an attempt to make Wednesday night the new must-see night for television comedy. If it moves to Monday again, it could serve as a huge lead-in for the spinoff of How I Met Your Mother starting in the new season. Making a decision even more difficult, however, is that Thursday primetime garners the highest advertising rates of the entire week, and The Big Bang Theory is the most popular (and therefore lucrative) show on TV right now.
Other options for CBS may be to leave The Big Bang Theory on Thursdays, but delay it until after the NFL game. This might add the benefit of being able to tease the comedy all during football and perhaps draw an even bigger crowd. Wherever the show ends up, even if it’s just for the length of the football season, it is highly likely that viewers will follow the show to any night of the week.
For the network’s part, CBS President Leslie Moonves told media watchers that The Big Bang Theory was likely to remain on Thursday nights, along with the hit Sherlock Holmes series Elementary.
Moonves didn’t put much stock in the stereotype that pro football will drive away the network’s majority female audience. He said that there are a lot of women who enjoy watching football, implying that these women might stay for the comedies largely targeted to their gender and bring some male viewers with them. The confident Moonves said that the male/female balance for CBS programming didn’t concern him at all.