TORONTO — “The Big Bang Theory” will finish its 11th season on Thursday as the most-watched TV show in Canada for the eighth time in a row.
That’s the longest consecutive winning streak on record under the current Numeris ratings measure. It surpasses winning runs by such ratings powerhouses in the past as “American Idol,” “Survivor,” “The Cosby Show,” “Dallas” and “All in the Family.”
From September through late April, “The Big Bang Theory” has averaged 2.9 million viewers a week this season on CTV. It has also, for years, been a huge source of revenue for Bell Media in Monday-to-Friday reruns across network and specialty channels, delivering another million-plus viewers every week night, 52 weeks a year.
The series has also been a boost for the Canadian band chosen to write and perform the theme song — the Barenaked Ladies.
This season’s viewership average will likely sneak past the three-million mark Thursday with this month’s second-biggest TV wedding. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) get set to tie the knot in “The Bow Tie Asymmetry.” Guest stars include Mark Hamill, Kathy Bates, Jerry O’Connell and Wil Wheaton, with Laurie Metcalf returning as Sheldon’s mom.
Despite riding a winning streak that shows few signs of waning, there is some question as to how much longer “The Big Bang Theory” will continue. Salaries for the main actors — Parsons, Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh) — have reportedly soared to nearly US$1 million per episode, once earnings from syndication and foreign sales are factored in. By this season, more recent cast additions Bialik and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette) have reportedly caught up to the tune of US$500,000 per episode each.
Still, when CBS announces its 2018-19 season May 16 in New York, there is speculation that the U.S. network and production partners Warner Bros. will make every effort to strike new deals with the cast and try to extend the series past the end of next season.
At least one cast member has suggested that 12 seasons should be enough.
“I think everyone is comfortable at this point with 12 seasons being a good time to go home and see our families,” said Galecki in January. He was before reporters gathered in Pasadena, Calif., at the semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour.
Galecki added that, at the time, the cast hadn’t reached any final consensus as to when they’d like to end the series, only agreeing that “we’re all going to be very sad when that day comes.”
The 43-year-old actor has had an extra busy season. Besides “The Big Bang Theory,” he was an executive producer on the spring CBS comedy “Living Biblically.” He also managed to squeeze in a guest star appearance on an episode of the revival of “Roseanne.”
He readily acknowledges that if it wasn’t for “Roseanne” — a series he began working on while still a teenager — he probably would never have landed “The Big Bang Theory.” He hopes to do more episodes of “Roseanne” next season.
Parsons has also been branching out. The 45-year-old is also now an executive producer, contributing to the spin-off series “Young Sheldon.” He also acts as the narrator or adult voice on that series, a task he says only adds a couple of hours a week to his schedule.
Speaking earlier this year on the set of “Young Sheldon,” Parsons said that if this is the last season of “The Big Bang Theory,” the cast is going out with a big bang.
“As far as comradery goes, the frivolity on the set and just the jovial atmosphere has never been at a more pitched degree than it is this season,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a reflection that the end is near or just because it’s uncertain now,” he added.
He feels that, having been together, working on the series for 11 seasons, the cast has become just like family in the way that they sometimes take their relationships for granted, “and now that the weeks might be getting short, you just don’t know.”