NBA Finals Down From Last Year, Still Dominate for ABC

Heat vs Spurs NBA Finals

Opposite the game, NBC's 'Hannibal' edges down, while Fox's 'Does Someone Have to Go?' rises

The opening game of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs made ABC an easy winner on Thursday, though the game could not match last year’s start.

Preliminary, affiliate-based national estimates from Nielsen aren’t that reliable for live sporting events but the Spurs’ victory over the Heat averaged a 4.9 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 12.3 million viewers overall from 9 to 11 p.m., down about 20% from the primetime portion of last year’s Game 1 between the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.

In metered-market overnights, though, this year’s game did a 10.6 ratings, down a lesser 10% from last year’s 11.8 and the third best for an NBA Finals Game 1 since 2004. Game did a 34.0 rating in Miami (best ever for a Game 1 of the Finals) and a 35.3 in San Antonio.

Last year’s game ended up doing a 6.9/19 in 18-49 and 16.2 million viewers overall.

Faring better relative to last year was ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night,” which did a 3.8 household rating/7 share in the overnights, up 36% from last year (2.8/5) and the best ever such special, which airs before the game in the East and after in the West.

It was quiet elsewhere in primetime, with Fox running second behind the steady “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.1/7 in 18-49, 5.1 million viewers overall) and newcomer “Does Someone Have to Go?” (1.2/3 in 18-49, 2.8 million viewers overall), which bounced back a bit from its low 1.0 rating for its second episode last week.

CBS hung there with encores of its Thursday regulars “The Big Bang Theory” (2.2/8 in 18-49, 9.0 million viewers overall), “Two and a Half Men” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall), “Person of Interest” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 6.5 million viewers overall) and “Elementary” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 5.4 million viewers overall).

NBC comedy “Save Me” held at its previous level (0.7/3 in 18-49, 3.1 million viewers overall at 8 p.m. and 0.7/2 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall at 8:30), while 10 p.m. original “Hannibal” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.3 million viewers overall) was down a tick from last week and likely was impacted by basketball. In between the originals were encores of comedies “The Office” (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall) and “Parks and Recreation” (0.7/2 in 18-49, 1.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.0/12; Fox, 1.6/5; CBS and Univision, 1.3/4; Telemundo, 0.8/2; NBC, 0.7/2; CW, 0.2/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 10.4 million; CBS, 6.6 million; Fox, 4.0 million; Univision, 3.3 million; NBC, 2.3 million; Telemundo, 1.7 million; CW, 0.8 million.

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