NBA, ‘Cut’ start slowly

MTV kudocast draws young auds away from nets

In what can hardly be deemed a surprise, an NBA Finals pitting the San Antonio Spurs against the Detroit Pistons got off to a slow start Thursday night on ABC, as did CBS’ fashion reality show “The Cut.”

Thursday also saw NBC’s “Hit Me Baby One More Time” slide in its second try. All of these programs were likely affected by the “MTV Movie Awards,” which took away some of the young viewers although it experienced ratings declines of its own.

For ABC, the Spurs-Pistons NBA Finals matchup was hardly the one it was hoping for even though it matches the league’s past two champions. Neither team possesses marquee players, instead relying on tough defense and teamwork.

Thursday’s Game 1 averaged a 4.0 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 10.57 million viewers overall to stand as the night’s No. 1 show in the demo as well as all key male categories. Still, this was down a steep 29% in 18-49 vs. last year’s opener between the Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers, but up slightly from the record-low numbers for 2003 when the Spurs took on the New Jersey Nets.

ABC no doubt is hoping for a lengthy series in this best-of-seven matchup, which could help produce some bigger ratings for a sixth or seventh game.

At CBS, Tommy Hilfiger-fronted unscripted series “The Cut” failed to make it with its first effort, as Thursday’s 90-minute seg (8-9:30) averaged a third-place 2.1/7 in 18-49 and 6.59 million viewers overall.

NBC fared better but was still down more than 20% from its premiere with “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (3.7/11 in 18-49, 7.32m), with week-two’s competing music acts including Vanilla Ice and The Knack.

And the “MTV Movie Awards” (2.3/7 in 18-49, 4.67m) declined about 20% year-to-year, delivering a 12 share in its target 12-34 demo.

One of the shows that didn’t disappoint Thursday was UPN’s “WWE Smackdown” wrestling series (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.41m), which logged its best men 18-34 score (2.9/10) since Feb. 26.

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