Renewed rivalry a ratings winner

ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals was an easy winner on Sunday, a night that featured little firstrun opposition on competing broadcast nets. There were a handful of high-profile cable entries on the night, including the second-season premiere of Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” although ratings estimates won’t be available until later today or Tuesday.

According to affiliate-based preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Sunday’s night’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers averaged a 4.3 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 10.3 million viewers overall from 9 to 11 p.m., although the game ended closer to midnight in the East. When Nielsen issues national estimates on Tuesday, Game 2 is expected to come in a bit higher than Thursday’s Game 1, which averaged a 5.4/17 in 18-49 and 13.4 million viewers overall.

At CBS, following “60 Minutes” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall), “Million Dollar Password” (2.1/6 in 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall) was down a tad vs. its solid premiere of the previous week, running second to ABC’s basketball pregame coverage. Filling out the night, a repeat of “Cold Case” was respectable at 9 o’clock (1.8/5 in 18-49, 8.1 million viewers overall), but auds did not stick around for an encore of “The Unit” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall), which faced, among other things, firstrun cable dramas “Army Wives” on Lifetime and “In Plain Sight” on USA.

NBC averaged a 1.5/5 in 18-49 and 4.9 million viewers overall from 7 to 9 p.m. for a repeat of “Most Outrageous Moments” before picking up some from 9 to 11 p.m. with a new edition of “Dateline” (2.0/5 in 18-49, 7.9 million viewers overall).

Fox’s all-repeat night started slowly with “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.5 million viewers overall ), but improved with animated laffers “The Simpsons” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall), “King of the Hill” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 3.9 million viewers overall), “Family Guy” (2.5/7 in 18-49, 5.3 million viewers overall) and “American Dad” (2.3/6 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 3.5/11; NBC and Fox, 1.7/5; CBS, 1.6/5; Univision, 0.6/2; CW, 0.4/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 9.0 million; CBS, 7.9 million; NBC, 6.4 million; Fox, 3.9 million; Univision, 1.5 million; CW, 1.0 million.

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