Game hits new highs for TNT

TNT set cable records for a first-round NBA Playoff contest Thursday, as its triple-overtime contest between Boston and Chicago siphoned away some of the aud for male-skewing broadcast programs.

Nielsen estimates that the Chicago Bulls’ 128-127 victory averaged 5.35 million viewers — easily standing as cable’s top program of the night in most key categories.

No National Basketball Assn. opening-round playoff game has delivered a larger cable audience to date. This season’s previous high was the 3.82 million who tuned in for the Los Angeles Lakers-Utah Jazz contest one week earlier on TNT.

Saturday’s Game 7 also figured to score big for TNT, although no preliminary numbers were available Sunday. Ditto for Disney Channel’s Saturday launch of comedy series “Jonas.”

The hoops action seemed to especially hit NBC hard, as its more male-leaning skeins “The Office” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 7.41m), “30 Rock” (2.9/7, 5.95m) and “Southland” (2.0/6, 6.66m) all declined. “Southland” dipped the most, and fell to third in its timeslot for the first time, beaten by a special repeat of “Criminal Minds” on CBS (2.3/7, 10.23m).

ABC had a solid night, winning in 18-49 from 9 to 11 with femme-leaning “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.1/13 in 18-49, 14.12m) and “Private Practice” (3.5/10, 9.70m for its season finale). Also, “Ugly Betty” may have returned to a fourth-place finish at 8 (2.0/6, 6.72m), but it performed a good deal better than previously skedded half-hours “In the Motherhood” and “Samantha Who?”

CBS won the night’s opening hour with “Survivor” (3.6/11 in 18-49, 11.73m), and its “CSI” (3.7/9, 15.54m) was the night’s most-watched program overall, despite losing out to “Grey’s” in 18-49 and 25-54.

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