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Sheldon Shines: A Deep Dive Into ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Young Sheldon’

Now in its eleventh season, The Big Bang Theory on CBS is still a massive hit — but how is its new spinoff, Young Sheldon, doing with audiences, and how does it compare to the flagship show? We partnered with Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level information from 7 million smart TV screens and devices, and Canvs, the emotion measurement company, to uncover viewership trends and how people are reacting to the series this fall.

Data from Inscape reveals that pretty much everyone who watches YS also watches BBT — which makes sense since the show is all about BBT fan-favorite lead character Sheldon as a little kid.

When it comes to viewership, BBT consistently gains in audience during the episodes, but YS does not. (Note that there have only been two episodes of YS so far, so trends may change as the season progresses). Both shows retain the audience extraordinarily well during commercial breaks — a time when a lot of shows see dips in viewers as people switch the channel to see what else is on.

Interestingly, BBT is being time-shifted considerably more than YS. YS viewers watch BBT live 64.6% of the time, and YS live 72.7% of the time. But BBT viewers only watch BBT live 61.8% of the time, whereas they watch YS live 73.7% of the time.

We also took a look at location. There are clear geographic clusters where people are heavily watching BBT and YS. On the heatmap shown here, the darker the color the more likely people in that area watch both shows.

We turned to Canvs to see how people are reacting to the series on an emotional level. Since the current season premiere of BBT, the show has generated 4,702 Emotional Reactions (ERs) with love, as is typical with hit shows, being most often expressed, followed by excitement. And, yep, Sheldon (portrayed by Jim Parsons) is the character who is driving the most reactions.

Young Sheldon, on the other hand, has garnered 3,174 ERs — 1,528 fewer than the more mature BBT, which is impressive over just two episodes. As with BBT, love and excitement are also driving forces.