Facing the American Idol steamroller for the first time, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory finished a strong No. 2 at 8 pm/ET with 13.5 million viewers, which was on par with its season average. Even NBC’s Community was at or near normal levels with 4.7 million, while the “official” premiere of Perfect Couples at 8:30 did OK with 4.2 million.
Idol, of course, was the night’s top show with 22 million viewers, a 20 percent drop from its Wednesday premiere. In its new 9 pm perch behind Idol, Bones drew its biggest audience in months (11 million) and even beat an original CSI among adults 18-49 (3.6 vs. 3.1). Both, however, ceded the 9 pm demo crown to The Office, which earned its best numbers of the season (8.2 million, 4.2). Benefiting from a stronger lead-in, Parks and Recreation returned with a series-high performance (6.2 million) at 9:30.
Overall, NBC’s three-hour comedy block experiment got off to a decent start. At 10 p.m., 30 Rock‘s 5.3 million (2.7 demo) was a marked improvement over previous timeslot occupant The Apprentice, although Outsourced fell to 4.0 million at 10:30.
ABC (with the exception of Wipeout) and The CW were in repeats.