Finals draw big in 18-49 for ABC

The NBA Finals on ABC proved to be the top draw for primetime auds last week, but it was also a standout sesh for a few cable programs.

TNT’s “The Closer” returned to record numbers on Monday (Daily Variety, June 14) and drama skedmate “Saved” opened well, while Disney Channel scored again with an original movie, “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior.” Another original movie, Lifetime’s “A Girl Like Me,” kicked off this week on a strong note.

Overall for the week of June 12-18, ABC edged out Fox to win in adults 18-49 (2.5 rating/8 share to 2.4/8) as the NBA series between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat claimed the top three spots in the 18-49 program rankings, according to Nielsen.

Sunday’s contest, which didn’t end until about 12:40 a.m. ET Monday, rated highest, with a 5.9 rating/18 share in adults 18-49 and 14.32 million viewers overall. Through five games of the NBA Finals, ABC was up 9% in 18-49 (5.1/16 vs. 4.7/14) and 12% in total viewers (12.5 million vs. 11.2 million) vs. last year’s soft averages.

CBS was back on top for the week in adults 25-54 (2.8/8 to a 2.7/8 for ABC) and led easily as usual in total viewers (8.1 million).

It wasn’t a great week for unscripted skeins bowing on the broadcast nets, with femme-fronted entries “How to Get the Guy” on ABC (1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.25 million viewers overall) and “Tuesday Night Book Club” on CBS (1.7/5, 5.07m) stumbling badly out of the blocks.

NBC did better but wasn’t exactly gangbusters with Sunday’s two-hour preview seg of unscripted skein “Treasure Hunters” (2.8/8, 6.87m), which begins its series run Monday.

One of the biggest stories of the week was the second-season bow of TNT drama “The Closer” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 8.28m), which drew the largest-ever overall aud to date for a drama series on basic cable.

Commercial-free seg ranked 33rd for the week among all primetime telecasts in adults 18-49, 21st among adults 25-54 (2.9/7) and 16th in total viewers.

New EMT drama “Saved,” starring Tom Everett Scott, opened well with its commercial-free premiere (1.6/4, 5.10m), retaining 80% of its “Closer” lead-in among 18-49ers.

“Closer” and “Saved” were cable’s top two scripted programs for the week in both 18-49 and 25-54.

At Disney Channel, Friday’s preem of “Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior,” starring Brenda Song, averaged 5.65 million viewers, making it the most-watched program on television from 8 to 9:45 p.m.

It drew 2.1 million viewers in both the kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14 demos.

USA, paced by Monday’s “WWE Raw” (2.2/6, 5.36m from 9 to 11) and Sunday’s combo of theatrical “Bruce Almighty” (1.4/5, 3.21m) and original series “The 4400″ (1.3/3, 3.11m) and “The Dead Zone” (1.3/3, 3.02m), was the top cable net in primetime in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers.

TBS, with movies “Old School” and “Cheaper by the Dozen” and comedy encores of “Family Guy” and “Friends,” edged out USA as the week’s top cabler in adults 18-34.

Also of note for the week on the broadcast side was a nice second-season premiere for Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” at 9 on Monday (3.7/10 in 18-49, 7.54m). The performance seg of the net’s “So You Think You Can Dance” was strong on Wednesday (4.1/13, 9.94m); it was the week’s top entertainment series in 18-49.

NBC continued to shine with “Last Comic Standing” on Tuesday (4.0/11, 9.01m). And the Peacock’s new drama “Windfall” held up nicely in its second outing (3.2/9 in 18-49, 7.79m), thanks in part to a strong lead-in from a special “Dateline” (3.9/12, 8.97m) featuring Matt Lauer’s chat with Britney Spears.

Although hardly a smash hit, “Windfall” is a step up compared with recent NBC dramas. In fact, the 3.2 rating for its second seg is higher than the second-week scores for any of the six dramas to bow on NBC this past season (“Surface,” “Inconceivable,” “E-Ring,” “The Book of Daniel,” “Conviction” and “Heist.”)

CBS’ “CSI: Miami” repeat was the week’s No. 1 scripted program (3.9/11, 13.49m). And the net got a nice finish to the week with Sunday’s repeat of Mel Gibson pic “What Women Want” (3.2/9, 9.56m), the Eye’s top Sunday movie in 18-49 since December.

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision ran fourth in primetime among adults 18-34 (1.7/6) as “La fea mas bella” had its best scores since its April bow.

* * *

On Monday of this week, NBC saw a bump for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals (2.3/7 in 18-49, 5.29m), in which the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers to win their first title. Game, which won the night for NBC in key male demos, was easily the highest-rated of the series but lagged the seventh game of the 2004 Cup finals (2.6/8 in 18-49, 6.29m).

Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.4/9 in 18-49, 7.50m) easily led its 9 o’clock hour in key demos.

At TNT, “The Closer” (1.5/4, 6.11m) remained solid despite its expected week-two decline; ditto for “Saved” (1.1/3, 3.52m).

Lifetime’s fact-based original movie “A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story,” starring Mercedes Ruehl as the mother of a transgendered teen (played by J.D. Pardo) whose life ends in murder, averaged a hearty 1.9/5 in 18-49 5.10 million viewers overall with its premiere — easily beating the TNT dramas among adults 18-49.

It was the top ad-supported telecast of the night in female teens (3.0/10) and the No. 2 movie on basic cable this year in total viewers, behind only A&E’s “Flight 93″ (5.9 million).

New Lifetime laffer “Lovespring International,” airing behind “Girl Like Me” at 11 p.m., hit a series-high 1.5 million viewers.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more