Big Bang Theory

"Big Bang Theory stars, from the left, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Jim Parsons, Mayim Bialik, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco. (Erik Voake/CBS via AP)'"

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "The Big Bang Theory" edged out "Game of Thrones" as the two beloved TV behemoths again topped the ratings as they approach their finales.

CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" drew 12.6 million live viewers last week, while HBO's "Game of Thrones" had 12.5 million, the Nielsen company said.

It was the second week in a row atop the ratings for "The Big Bang Theory," whose 12-season run of nerdy comedy ends with a May 16 finale episode that by that time will have no competition from "Thrones" and should win the week running away.

With HBO available in far fewer homes than CBS and the other networks, the past week was still a big win for "Game of Thrones," which continues to break its own viewership records.

The series' penultimate episode, titled "The Bells," which brought a new level of fiery, dragon-fueled destruction, drew 18.4 million viewers if reruns later that night and streaming services views are included. That breaks its record of 17.8 million set for an episode earlier in the season, and makes it the most-watched episode of any show in HBO history.

Next week's series finale, whose title has not been revealed, is likely to crush those numbers.

The second round of the NBA playoffs made it a big week overall for cable, with four games on ESPN and TNT among the top 20 shows, three of them in the Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets series.

CBS rode "The Big Bang Theory" and six other shows in the top 10 to again win the week in primetime, with an average of 5.9 million viewers. NBC averaged 4 million, ABC had 3.6 million, Fox had 2.5 million, Telemundo had 1.3 million, ION Television had 1.24 million, Univision had 1.22 million and the CW 750,000.

TNT used the NBA playoffs to become the week's most popular cable network with a primetime average of 3.4 million viewers. Fox News Channel had 2.3 million, ESPN had 1.8 million, MSNBC had 1.7 million and HGTV had 1.2 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.1 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 7.5 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.6 million viewers.

For the week of May 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 12.6 million; "Game of Thrones," HBO, 12.5 million; "NCIS," CBS, 11.7 million; "Young Sheldon," CBS, 10.5 million; "FBI," CBS, 8.8 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 8.5 million; "Mom," CBS, 8 million; "American Idol" (Sunday), ABC, 7.9 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 7.82 million; "Chicago Med," NBC, 7.8 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by Fox Corp. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

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