Games toss ABC air ball

It proved to be the worst of all worlds for ABC and its coverage of the NBA Finals as the four-game series lived down to its hype and ended up producing all-time low ratings.

The San Antonio-Cleveland series was off to a bad enough start in the first couple of games — Spurs victories on their home court in Texas — and never improved when the action shifted to Cleveland. As a result, the four-game sweep by San Antonio averaged a mere 9.3 million viewers, down 28% from the previous year’s six-game Dallas-Miami series (13 million).

At least the best-of-seven series went out on something of a high Thursday as San Antonio’s 83-82 victory averaged a 4.0 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and 9.91 million viewers overall, making it the highest-rated game of these Finals. Down-to-the-wire contest surged to a 5.3/18 in 18-49 and 13.1 million viewers in its final half-hour.

The lowest average for a Finals prior to this year was in 2003, when 9.9 million watched the six-game series between San Antonio and New Jersey on ABC. The 2003 and 2007 Finals are the only two matchups of the past dozen years in which at least one of the participants didn’t hail from one of the nation’s top 10 markets.

Hoops action Thursday was in a tight battle with Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” (4.0/12, 10.64m) as the night’s top show. Things got worse, meanwhile, at 8 p.m. for CBS’ “Pirate Master” (1.5/5, 5.39m), which slid 21% from the previous week (1.9/7 in 18-49) and 35% from its May 31 preem (2.3/8) — coming in below what the net did with “Game Show Marathon” on the same night a year ago.

USA’s “The Starter Wife” seems to have settled at a solid level, with its third-week averages (1.5/4 in 18-49, 3.55m) on par with the previous week and standing as cable’s No. 1 show of the night in key demos.

And on Friday, the Daytime Emmy Awards on CBS got a bit of a boost, averaging a 2.0/7 in 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers overall in the Nielsen prelims — up from last year on ABC (1.7/6 in 18-49, 6.08m) and the largest aud for the kudocast in three years. Show got a nice lead-in from the final Bob Barker-hosted episode of “The Price Is Right” (prelim 2.2/9 in 18-49, 8.7 million), a repeat of the daytime episode from Friday.

Kudocast marked the first time in 15 years that the Daytime Emmys, which have typically aired in the May sweep, were pushed back to June.

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