“Big Bang Theory” Gains Ratings Momentum; Nielsen Week In Review
This photo provided by CBS shows Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) in a scene from "The Big Bang Theory," which airs Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./CBS via AP)
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“The Big Bang Theory” is starting to pick up ratings steam in the final stretch of its 12-year run.

The CBS sitcom was last week’s most-watched entertainment show as total viewership ticked up to a 2018-19 season high of more than 13 million, according to Nielsen figures Tuesday.

That’s a welcome sign for CBS, given the 30 percent drop in the sitcom’s season debut compared to the fall 2017 opener.

While audience interest is likely to grow as the show draws to its conclusion this spring, “The Big Bang Theory” also is benefiting from the wrap-up of competing Thursday night NFL broadcasts.

Football still dominated the week, as playoff games or related programming counted for half of the 10 most-watched shows, with top-rated network Fox the big beneficiary.

Less promising for Fox was the second-week performance of its new celebrity contest, “The Masked Singer.” After the Jan. 2 debut drew a healthy 9.4 million viewers and major social media buzz, last week’s audience dropped to 7.1 million facing a new episode of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” instead of a rerun.

It didn’t take long for another freshman contest, NBC’s “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” to snag bragging rights: It debuted last week with nearly 10 million viewers, the most-watched debut of an alternative series since the 2016 debut of NBC’s “Little Big Shots” drew 14.9 million.

Fox won the week in primetime, averaging a hefty 11.35 million viewers. CBS had 6.5 million, NBC had 4.95 million, ABC had 3.84 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Networks had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW averaged 860,000.

ESPN topped the cable networks with a primetime average of 4.1 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 2.43 million, MSNBC had 2.1 million, Hallmark had 1.32 million and CNN and HGTV had 1.31 million each.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.4 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 9 million viewers on average and the “CBS Evening News” drew 6.7 million.

Below are primetime viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Jan. 7-13.  Listings include the week’s ranking and viewership.

1. NFC Playoff: Dallas at LA Rams, Fox, 33.4 million.
2. College Football Playoff National Championship: Alabama at Clemson, ESPN, 24.7 million.
3. NFC Kickoff: Dallas at LA Rams, Fox, 24.1 million.
4. NFC Playoff Post-game: Philadelphia at New Orleans, Fox, 22.8 million.
5. College Football Bowl Pre-game show, ESPN, 15.9 million.
6. “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 13.5 million.
7. “NCIS,” CBS, 12.1 million.
8. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 12.06 million.
9. “America’s Got Talent: The Champions,” NBC, 9.97 million.
10. “Mom,” CBS, 9.4 million.
11. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 9.1 million.
12. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 8.6 million.
13. “God Friended Me,” CBS, 8.3 million.
14. “The Simpsons,” Fox, 8.2 million.
15. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.12 million.
16. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 8 million.
17. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 7.9 million.
18. “Hannity,” Fox News Channel, 7.14 million.
19. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 7.1 million.
20. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.9 million.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.; CBS is a division of CBS Corp.; Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox; NBC is owned by NBC Universal.

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