Rides NBA to victory despite 'Millionaire,' 'Survivor'

It doesn’t have a “Millionaire” or “Survivor” on its team, but at this time of year NBC always has a sporting chance of finishing on top.

Behind two games of the NBA Finals and better-than-par numbers for weekend primetime coverage of golf’s U.S. Open, the Peacock took its third straight week in both total viewers and adults 18-49. For the week of June 12-18, according to Nielsen, NBC edged CBS in homes and total viewers and topped both ABC and CBS by 2 shares in young adults.

Pro basketball’s championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers wrapped on Monday of this week with a Lakers victory that produced the Finals’ biggest rating in two years.

CBS continues to make big strides thanks to its reality adventure series “Survivor,” which for the first time ranked as the week’s No. 1 show in adults 18-49 (9.4/29).

The Eye net stumbled late in the week, but still posted the biggest year-to-year gains among the major nets in adults 18-49 (up 32%) and finished first for the week in women 25-54 (4.6/13).

Fox and the WB, meanwhile, continue to struggle this summer.

Fox’s most-watched program of the week, “America’s Most Wanted” (8.94 million viewers), placed 38th, and the net finished the week just 2.4 million viewers ahead of fifth-place UPN.

The WB, meanwhile, finished deep in sixth; for the first time, its homes rating (1.5) was closer to seventh-place Pax (0.9) than fifth-place UPN (2.3).

After “Survivor,” the week’s top shows in adults 18-49 were Wednesday’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals (8.2/25) and Sunday’s seg of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (7.3/20).

In total viewers, the top shows were Tuesday’s “Millionaire” (23.84 million), Sunday’s “Millionaire” (23.35) and “Survivor” (23.25).

Broadcast nets’ adults 18-49 averages for the week of June 12-18: NBC, a 4.1 rating/13 share (up 3% in rating vs. the same week a year ago); ABC, 3.4/11 (up 21%); CBS, 3.3/11 (up 32%); Fox, 2.6/8 (down 10%); UPN, 1.4/4 (up 56%); the WB, 0.9/3 (down 18%); Pax, 0.3/1 (even).

In homes: NBC, 7.3/13 (up 6%); CBS, 7.2/13 (up 4%); ABC, 6.6/12 (up 20%); Fox, 4.0/7 (down 7%); UPN, 2.3/4 (up 44%); the WB, 1.5/3 (down 35%); Pax, 0.9/2 (even).

Sunday

U.S. Open golf helped NBC win its third straight Sunday in adults 18-49 (4.3/13). The tourney’s final hour (7-8 p.m.) shot a 6.0/23 in the demo, placing 14 shares ahead of second-place “60 Minutes.” In homes, Sunday’s 8.1 rating is the best for final-round coverage since 1981 (8.9).

ABC was second in young adults (4.1/13) and first in viewers (12.69 million), led by “Millionaire” (22.33 million, 7.3/20 in A18-49). The quizzer more than tripled the two-hour averages of its “Kazaam” lead-in (7.43 million, 2.4/8 in A18-49); the 1996 pic, starring the Lakers’ Shaquille O’Neal as a genie, posted the lowest ratings for any firstrun ABC pic since last summer.

CBS also struggled with its Sunday pic, as part one of repeat mini “True Women” posted the net’s worst non-Tonys adults 18-49 rating (2.3/6) since last summer.

Saturday

Weather-related delays pushed the 100th U.S. Open into primetime, and that turned out to be good news for NBC. The Peacock won the night in viewers (9.05 million) and placed a close second to Fox in adults 18-49 (3.0 vs. 3.2).

ABC’s “Alma Awards” (1.4/5 in adults 18-49) settled for less than half of the adults 18-49 rating the net got a week earlier with hockey (3.1/12).

CBS’ Los Angeles affil, CBS2, reran the third episode of “Survivor” from 9 to 10 and was rewarded with a first-place 7.1/13 homes rating. The station went with the reality series over “Walker, Texas Ranger” because this “Survivor” seg had aired opposite a highly rated Lakers game three days earlier.

Friday

Despite finishing 9% behind last year’s Game 5 in homes (10.0 vs. 11.0), the NBA Finals on NBC trounced the competish in total viewers and all key demos.

For the first time this Finals, the game’s adults 18-34 rating (6.8) was higher than both its 18-49 rating (6.7) and 25-54 rating (6.6), reflecting that the series had a firmer grip among the youngest of adults.

ABC managed a moral victory by pulling into a tie with NBC for the night in teens. Each net averaged a 3.5 among the Clearasil set, with the NBA game predictably romping among male teens (4.1/18) and ABC, led by “Making the Band,” ruling among female teens (5.1/19).

Thursday

Firstrun segs of ABC’s “Millionaire” and UPN’s “WWF Smackdown!” continue to make life miserable for the other nets, which are primarily in reruns.

ABC easily won in total viewers (13.97 million) and topped second-place NBC by 11% in adults 18-49 (4.9/16 vs. 4.4/14). The net’s 8:30 edition of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” won its half-hour in viewers (9.76 million) for the first time.

“Smackdown,” featuring a special appearance by Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft, posted UPN’s second best Thursday rating to date among women 18-34 (2.8/10) and helped the netlet draw more viewers on the night (7.7 million) than Fox and the WB combined (6.9).

Wednesday

The third episode of “Survivor” was so dominant in its 8 p.m. hour that it topped the other five broadcast nets’ combined scores by 12% in adults 18-49 (9.4 vs. 8.4) and by 13% in both adults 25-54 (9.9 vs. 8.8) and adults 18-34 (9.3 vs. 8.2). In the key 18-49 demo, the 9.4/29 is the best on record for any CBS series in the Wednesday leadoff hour (Daily Variety, June 16).

Tuesday

ABC took the night in viewers and demos behind the best Tuesday ratings for “Millionaire” (23.84 million, 7.1/23 in A18-49) since the May 2 celeb edition. Seg featured the fourth million-dollar winner since the quizzer bowed in August.

CBS spec “AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs” averaged 12.95 million viewers for its three hours and an adults 18-49 rating of 4.5/13 — easily topping the net’s numbers for the first two AFI “100 Years” specs the last two years. (Daily Variety, June 15).

Fox’s all-laffer Tuesday lineup has helped the net post gains vs. last summer in adults 18-34 (3.3/11 vs. 2.8/10). “Family Guy” led the way with a 3.5/11 in the demo, nearly matching a repeat of NBC’s “Will & Grace” (3.6/12). “Family” also ranked as the No. 1 series of the week in teens (6.8/21), topping such programs as “Survivor” (6.5), “The Simpsons” (5.8) and “WWF Smackdown!” (5.8).

Monday

CBS won June 12 in viewers and demos, taking each half-hour in adults 18-49 for the second straight week. A “Mysteries” edition of newsmag “48 Hours” brought the night’s best ratings in adults 18-49 (5.3/15).

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