NBC shoots, scores with hoopcasts

Shaq and Co. have put the Peacock back atop the weekly ratings perch for the first time since January.

Behind three high-rated NBA conference final games, including Sunday’s nail-biting clincher in the West, NBC has put an end to ABC’s 22-week winning streak in total viewers.

According to Nielsen, NBC edged ABC by an average of 140,000 viewers per half-hour during the week of May 29-June 4 (10.65 million to 10.51), putting a halt to a winning streak that began in January. NBC also won in homes by two-tenths of a ratings point (7.4 to 7.2), ending another 22-week ABC streak that included one tie.

It marks the first time that ABC has lost a week in viewers since “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” began airing at least three times a week in January. NBC was also the last net to top ABC, taking the week of Jan. 3-9.

This time around, NBC also won easily in adults 18-49 (4.7 vs. ABC’s 3.7), its fourth demo victory in the last six weeks following a nine-week run by ABC.

Last week’s NBA action included two Western Conference final games between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Shaquille O’Neal-led L.A. Lakers, which as the league’s marquee team is helping NBC shave its playoff-to-date losses vs. a year ago. The net is down 12% from last year’s postseason average (5.7/14 vs. 6.5/16) after trailing by as much as 20% earlier in the playoffs.

It was a good week overall for the six broadcast nets, which were up 4% in homes vs. the same week a year ago (29.8 vs. 28.7) and 9% in adults 18-49. With basketball and UPN’s Thursday wrestling leading the way, the gains in men 18-49 were an even larger 12% (15.7 vs. 14.0).

CBS joined NBC, ABC and UPN in posting gains vs. 1999. Eye’s Wednesday bow of “Survivor” drew more than 15.5 million viewers and won in all key demos, while a Saturday repeat of the first episode added 9 million sets of eyeballs.

The top programs of the week in total viewers were “Millionaire” segs on Thursday (23.83 million), Sunday (22.72) and Tuesday (22.28).

In adults 18-49, the top shows were Sunday’s NBA game (9.3/25) and “Millionaire” editions on Thursday (7.4/21) and Sunday (6.8/16).

Adults 18-49 averages for the week of May 29-June 4: NBC, a 4.7 rating/15 share (up by 15% in rating vs. the same week a year ago); ABC, 3.7/11 (up 12%); Fox, 2.9/9 (down 6%), tied with CBS, 2.9/9 (up 12%); UPN, 1.4/4 (up 56%); the WB, 0.9/3 (down 25%); Pax, 0.3/1 (even).

In homes, it’s: NBC, 7.4/13 (up 3%); ABC, 7.2/13 (up 22%); CBS, 7.0/13 (up 3%); Fox, 4.3/8 (down 10%); UPN, 2.3/4 (up 44%); the WB, 1.6/3 (down 33%); Pax, 0.9/2 (even).

Monday

Fox’s “Millionaire”-esque quizzer “Chance of a Lifetime” (6.09 million, 2.4/7 in A18-49) started slowly on June 5, losing young adults in its second half-hour and slipping 29% behind the net’s week earlier rating in the slot with sitcom repeats (3.4). It also provided a weak lead-in for an already ailing “Ally McBeal,” whose repeat seg could only manage a tie with ABC’s Stanley Cup game in adults 18-34.

With hockey on ABC and Fox stumbling, CBS cruised: Eye net won each half-hour in viewers, adults 18-49, adults 25-54 and adults 18-34. At 10, newsmag “48 Hours” surged to the net’s best non-sports adults 18-49 rating in the hour since Jan. 3, 1999.

Sunday

NBC posted its first viewer and demo victory on a Sunday since Oct. 24 (World Series) with Game 7 of the NBA’s Western finals (19.09 million viewers, 9.3/25 in adults 18-49). Despite the big basketball numbers, “Millionaire” still ranked as the night’s No. 1 program in total viewers.

The season premiere of HBO comedy “Sex and the City” improved by 41% vs. last season’s opener (9.0 vs. 6.4 in HBO homes), which translates to an average of about 4.2 million viewers. Of course, the program’s cume average will increase with its usual three weekly repeats, which benefits viewers who may have opted for the NBA game knowing they could catch the laffer at another time.

Saturday

Game 3 of hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals left ABC in fourth for the night in viewers (3.73 million) and young adults (1.7/7). The game, featuring the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils, did very well in Dallas (20.0/36 in homes), but failed to escape fourth place in any other top 10 market.

Fox won in viewers and demos, led by “America’s Most Wanted” (8.31 million, 3.7/13 in A18-49), which topped its May sweeps averages.

Friday

Game 6 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals led NBC to an easy victory in viewers and adults 18-49, more than doubling second-place ABC in the latter (5.4 vs. 2.6).

The basketball game was so dominant that, in addition to a commanding 23-share victory in men 18-49, it also won by 6 shares in women 18-49. Its men 18-49 rating (8.4/29) was NBC’s best on a Friday since June 12, 1998 (NBA Finals, Game 5: Utah vs. Chicago).

Thursday

ABC looks to have Thursdays in its pocket this summer, with “Millionaire” towering over everything else on the night for a second straight week. It topped repeat NBC laffers “Frasier” and “Just Shoot Me” by more than 14 million viewers (23.8 million vs. 9.5) and by 61% among adults 18-49 (7.4/21 vs. 4.6/13).

In a rarity, NBC slipped to third in viewers at 8:30 as a repeat “3rd Rock from the Sun” (9.34 million) trailed repeats of CBS’ “Diagnosis Murder” (10.55) and ABC’s “Whose Line is it Anyway” (10.15).

UPN, whose “WWF Smackdown!” wrestling is airing originals this summer, moved up to fourth in viewers (7.76 million) and third in both adults 18-49 (2.9/9) and adults 18-34 (3.4/11).

Wednesday

ABC and CBS tied in adults 18-49 (4.4/13), with NBC right behind (4.3/13).

“Survivor’s” first episode handled “Millionaire” in key demos and finished the week as the No. 1 series in adults 18-34. In another positive sign for the show, it also improved handily on the half-hour — something the quizzer has consistently done.

Tuesday

“Millionaire” helped ABC win the night in viewers and adults 18-49, although CBS took the post- “Millionaire” hours in viewers and NBC in young adults.

Fox’s attempt at a four-comedy lineup — including two new segs of “The PJs” as well as an original “Family Guy” — failed to lift the net out of fourth in adults 18-49. “Family Guy,” airing at 9, looked the best, winning among kids and teens and placing a close second to ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” in adults 18-34.

Monday

CBS won May 29 in viewers and adults 18-49, its first ranking atop the Monday demo charts without sports help since Jan. 31.

With big-name performers like ‘N Sync and Ricky Martin, ABC’s “World Music Awards” was able to improve on its year-ago adults 18-49 rating by 32% (3.7 vs. 2.8). Kudocast also won its slot in women 18-49 (4.6/13) and women 18-34 (4.6/14).

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