TNT, ESPN hoops post solid ratings, too

Scripted skeins took a back seat during the first full frame of television’s summer season, as hoops and hoofers — as well as cable’s favorite tabloid couple — dominated in demos.

With the hot “So You Think You Can Dance” eating up four of Fox’s 15 hours, the net continued its monthslong winning streak among adults 18-49. It was the week’s top entertainment series on the broadcast nets, though ABC’s own summer reality entry, “Wipeout,” wasn’t far behind.

Top honors overall, however, went to TLC’s “Jon and Kate Plus 8,” which opened its fifth season with record numbers for the net (4.6/12 in adults 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall). Show’s Jon and Kate Gosselin dominated tabloid and mainstream magazine covers in May, amping up anticipation for the new season (Daily Variety, May 27).

And cable as a whole had an especially strong week. Between “Jon and Kate,” the NBA playoffs on TNT and ESPN, and the “MTV Movie Awards,” cable accounted for eight of the top 11 programs in adults 18-49.

Hoops action, meanwhile, continues to perform very well heading into the start of the NBA Finals on Thursday. Four of the week’s top five programs in adults 18-49 were basketball contests, led by Tuesday’s Game 4 in the Eastern Conference finals between Cleveland and Orlando (4.4/13 in 18-49, 10.08 million viewers overall).

TNT and ESPN both enjoyed their best-ever NBA playoff runs (Daily Variety, June 2).

Overall for the May 25-31 frame, Fox led in adults 18-49 for a 17th straight week. Its 2.1 rating/7 share in the demo was followed by CBS and NBC (both at 1.7/5), TNT (1.6/5) and ABC and corporate sibling ESPN (tied for fifth at 1.3/4).

CBS edged past Fox for the week’s lead in adults 25-54 (2.4/7 to 2.3/6) and dominated the sesh in total viewers (8.0 million to 5.5 million for runner-up Fox). The Eye, the only net without a prominent sports or firstrun series presence, claimed the week’s most-watched program with a repeat of “NCIS” (12.46 million).

Leading Fox were audition segs of “So You Think You Can Dance” on Thursday (3.6/11 in 18-49, 9.15m) and Wednesday (3.5/10, 8.71m). Net’s drama “Mental” opened to OK numbers on Tuesday (2.1/5 in 18-49, 5.76m), building on its lead-in from a repeat “House” (1.7/5, 4.25m).

Repeat-heavy CBS, led by “Two and a Half Men” (2.7/7 in 18-49, 9.27m), got a country music boost during the frame courtesy of Wednesday’s two-hour George Strait “ACM Artist of the Decade” spec (2.2/6 in 18-49, 10.63m) and Friday’s network premiere of the movie “Walk the Line” (1.5/5, 6.45m).

NBC was held out of the week’s top 20 rankings among adults 18-49, but finished well by winning Saturday and Sunday behind the opening two games of hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals. Sunday’s Game 2 (2.4/7 in 18-49, 5.39m) helped the net win the night in 18-49 for the first time since the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.

ABC, which will get a big bounce this week from the start of the NBA Finals, had a quiet seven days outside the solid start for Wednesday reality series “Wipeout” (3.3/10 in 18-49, 8.71m), which won its hour, and an OK bow for Monday’s “Here Come the Newlyweds” (1.9/5, 4.89m).

One of cable’s standouts for the week was Sunday’s “MTV Movie Awards” (2.8/8 in 18-49, 5.28m), which spiked up sharply vs. the previous year for the event’s largest aud in five years.

Spike’s “Jesse James Is a Dead Man” averaged 2 million viewers in its premiere — the net’s best-ever bow for an unscripted series — and a sizable 888,000 men 18-49.

And Oxygen has reason to be happy with the fourth-season debut of “Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood,” the net’s top-rated premiere to date among women 18-49 (424,000) — up 19% vs. the season-three opener.

Lifetime’s two-part original movie “Maneaters” wrapped Sunday with an average aud of 2.92 million, while Hallmark drew a little more than 2 million viewers on Saturday for the preem of its original pic “Safe Harbor.”

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