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CBS comedy 'Big Bang Theory' hits ratings high

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS is getting a bigger bang out of its most popular comedy.

"The Big Bang Theory" set a series record with 17.6 million viewers last week, the Nielsen Co. said Tuesday. The Thursday night comedy, now in its sixth year on the network, was second only to NBC's Sunday night football game in popularity for the week.

The show, about four geeky technology institute workers, an aspiring actress and their friends, is in its third year on CBS' Thursday night schedule. Its reruns are very popular on TBS and appear to be fueling interest in original episodes.

It was a big CBS week in the ratings. Eight out of the top 10 scripted shows were on CBS, with ABC's "Modern Family" and "Castle" the only two exceptions.

The broad-brush miniseries "Mankind" seems to be a rare misfire for the usually hot History network. Its first episode had 2.1 million viewers last week, Nielsen said. The series "America: The Story of Us," upon which the new one was modeled, had 5.7 million viewers for its first episode.

For the week, CBS averaged 10.7 million viewers in prime-time (6.8 rating, 11 share). A ratings point represents 1,147,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 114.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

ABC had 8.1 million (5.2, 8), NBC had 7 million (4.3, 7), Fox had 4.5 million (2.8, 4), the CW had 1.8 million (1.1, 2) and ION Television had 1.1 million (0.8, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.9 million viewers (2.0, 3). Telemundo had 1.3 million (0.7, 1), TeleFutura had 790,000 (0.7, 1), Estrella had 230,000 (0.1, 0) and Azteca 210,000 (also 0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.2 million viewers (6.1, 11). ABC's "World News" was second with 8.5 million (5.7, 11), and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.7 million viewers (4.6, 8).

For the week of Nov. 12-18, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: Baltimore at Pittsburgh, NBC, 18.16 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 17.63 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.05 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.77 million; "Person of Interest," CBS, 14.57 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 14.04 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 13.87 million; "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 13.79 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 12.91 million; "Criminal Minds," CBS, 12.2 million.