U.S. Open, NBA Finals win ratings race

Dads seemed to be in control of the remote Sunday, as the NBA Finals and golf’s U.S.. Open crushed their Father’s Day competition — including the Tony Awards on CBS.

Broadway’s big night, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and featuring more musical performances than usual, averaged 6.2 million viewers for its three hours, on par with last year’s all-time low delivery. It was also in line with last year in key demos like adults 18-49 (1.1 rating/3 share) and adults 25-54 (1.5/4), according to preliminary Nielsen estimates, with the Eye well behind its broadcast rivals.

While the kudocast numbers remain puny, holding steady opposite tougher-than-usual competish is at least something to hang its hat on.

It certainly couldn’t help Tony that two top-10 markets — Los Angeles and Boston — were sidetracked by basketball. The NBA Finals game (9:05 p.m.-12:11 a.m. ET) overlapped with the Tonys by more than an hour in Los Angeles, while it overlapped by two hours in Boston.

The Tonys averaged a 5.0 household rating in Nielsen’s metered market overnights, with Los Angeles below average (4.0), while Boston was above average (5.7). New York once again led the way with a 9.1, followed by West Palm Beach (8.2) and Las Vegas (7.0).

As for the hoops action, Sunday’s Game 5 victory for the Los Angeles Lakers over the Boston Celtics averaged a 7.2 rating in adults 18-49 and 17.3 million viewers overall, according to time zone-adjusted preliminary Nielsen nationals.

This topped last Tuesday’s Game 3 to rank as the top-rated contest of this year’s Finals. It’s also the best score for pro basketball’s championship series since Game 7 in 2005 (Detroit-San Antonio), and the best for a non-series-clinching contest since Game 4 in 2004 (Lakers-Detroit).

Action in the best-of-seven series continues tonight on ABC, with a final game, if necessary, slated for Thursday.

Earlier in the evening Sunday, NBC dominated with the final two hours of the U.S. Open. Hotly contested action, which continued Monday afternoon in the form of a playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate (won by Woods), averaged an 8.5 rating/18 share from 3-9 p.m. ET, swelling to an 11.4/17 for its final two hours, in primetime.

The 8.5 rating repped a 21% improvement vs. last year, and is the best for the concluding day of the U.S. Open since 2002.

Total-viewer estimates weren’t available Monday, but it’s believed the Open’s primetime audience from 7 to 9 p.m. will be larger than that for any network in the time period since ABC’s coverage of the Academy Awards in February.

Meanwhile, Lifetime’s “Army Wives” impressed with the second episode of its second season. Prelim results show it averaging 4.2 million viewers (on par with last week), while it grew a bit in women 25-54 (to nearly 2 million in this age bracket, a Lifetime record for a drama telecast).

In all key female demos, “Army Wives” came in more than 60% ahead of its delivery for week two of its rookie season last summer.

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