Going Out With a Bang: A Look at ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Audience and Advertisers

This week marks the beginning of the final season of the CBS smash hit The Big Bang Theory, so we partnered with real-time TV ad measurement company iSpot.tv to examine advertiser trends over the last two seasons plus the final-season premiere (we looked at first-run episodes only. The data below excludes syndicated reruns). Also below: viewership insights courtesy of Inscape.

For season 10, which aired Sept. 19, 2016 through May 11, 2017, 187 brands spent an estimated $80.8 million on 659 airings of 435 spots during Big Bang Theory that generated over 3.7 billion TV ad impressions.

The top-spending brands included Subaru, AT&T Wireless, Ford, Enbrel (an autoimmune treatment) and Apple iPhone. Top-spending industries included automakers, movie studios, mobile device companies, wireless companies and department stores.

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There was a big uptick in advertising spend for season 11 (Sept. 25, 2017 through May 10, 2018), with 207 brands (20 more than season 10) spending an estimated $101.9 million on 421 spots that aired 615 times, generating over 3.4 billion TV ad impressions.

Subaru returned as the top-spending brand, followed by Lyrica (a nerve-pain medication), McDonald’s, Universal Pictures and Taltz (another autoimmune treatment). The industries that spent heavily mostly echoed those of season 10, with automakers, movie studios, department stores, mobile device companies and quick-serve restaurants leading the charts.

For the season 12 premiere, 11 brands spent an estimated $5.2 million on 19 ads that ran 20 times and generated nearly 109.8 million TV ad impressions. Universal Pictures was back as a top-spending brand, leading the way at No. 1, followed by Exxon Mobil, Audi, Netflix and Audible. The overall big-spending industries were movie studios, accessory brands, automakers, baby-care products and fuel & motor oil.

Data from Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 9 million smart TVs and devices, reveals that it's not just the devoted fans who are watching season 11: 60% of people who watched season 10 at all have come back to watch season 11, and 52% of the people who are watching season 11 have never tuned in before (with 48% returning season 10 viewers).

We also looked at the time shifting habits of this audience and found that overall, the more episodes that were consumed, the more likely Big Bang Theory was to be watched live. Put simply, hardcore fans tune in regularly to each airing as it happens.

When it comes to other shows The Big Bang Theory audience enjoys, sitcoms rank highly, including American Housewife, The Goldbergs, The Middle, Modern Family and Will & Grace