NBA Finals, Winning Friday Lineup Lift ABC to Weekly Ratings Victory

Len Amato
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The first two games of the NBA Finals helped lift ABC to an easy primetime ratings victory in key demos last week, while HBO’s “Game of Thrones” remained the hottest entertainment series as it nears its season finale.

For the week of June 2-8, according to Nielsen estimates, ABC led in adults 18-49 with a 2.3 rating/8 share, well above runner-up NBC (1.6/6), which had won the opening summer stanza one week earlier. Univision ranked third (1.0/4), edging ahead of CBS and Fox (0.9/3). ABC also won in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

The first two games of the NBA Finals averaged a 6.0/19 in 18-49 and 14.99 million viewers overall, up 3% and 4% respectively vs. last year when the same two teams met. They were easily the week’s top primetime programs.

Among original series for ABC, Wednesday drama “Motive” was on the rise (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.39 million viewers overall), as was “Celebrity Wife Swap” on Tuesday (1.5/5 in 18-49, 4.23 million viewers overall). Friday continued to hum along too with “What Would You Do” (1.4/5 in 18-49, 4.55 million viewers overall) and “20/20” (1.5/6 in 18-49, 6.27 million viewers overall).

The return of drama “Mistresses” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.66 million viewers overall) matched its series premiere demo score of last year while setting a high in total viewers. In its second week, Saturday alternative series “Sing Your Face Off” edged up (0.7/2 in 18-49, 3.06 million viewers overall)

Though it slipped to second, NBC had a pretty good week — led by “America’s Got Talent” (2.9/10 in 18-49, 11.30 million viewers overall), which was the week’s No. 1 ad-supported series in both the demo and total viewers. It retained nearly all of its week-earlier season premiere score, as did lead-out rookie medical drama “The Night Shift” (1.5/5 in 18-49, 6.87m), which is the early summer’s top scripted original broadcast series.

Also for the Peacock, “American Ninja Warrior” (1.9/6 in 18-49, 5.30 million viewers overall) spiked 19% from its holiday score of the previous week to match the show’s demo high since its first-season finale in July 2012. Friday drama “Crossbones” (0.9/3 in 18-49, 3.64 million viewers overall) was within a tenth of its week-earlier premiere; and Sunday’s “Miss USA” pageant (1.4/4 in 18-49, 5.56m) was up a tenth from its year-ago performance, beating CBS’ “Tony Awards” head-to-head in demos.

While the NBA on ABC dominated primetime on its two nights, NBC could claim the week’s most-watched program overall with Saturday afternoon’s Belmont Stakes (20.6 million). The horse race led into the most-watched Stanley Cup Final Game 2 (6.41 million viewers for Kings-Rangers) since at least 1994.

CBS had a quiet week, garnering a 1.2 rating for its only two original programs: a special Monday “48 Hours” (1.2/4, 6.20 million viewers overall) and Sunday’s “Tony Awards” (1.2/4, 7.05m). The kudocast matched last year’s demo delivery while coming in a bit lower in total viewers; still, this was the second largest overall audience for the event in five years.

Fox was led by its Monday firstrun duo of “MasterChef” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 5.28 million viewers overall) and “24: Live Another Day” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.18 million viewers overall) but then flopped one night later with “Riot” (0.4/2 in 18-49, 1.15 million viewers overall) and “I Wanna Marry Harry” (0.4/1 in 18-49, 1.03 million viewers overall), which delivered the lowest scores ever for a firstrun series on a Big Four net.

CW’s “The 100” held steady Wednesday as it continues with original episodes this summer (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.58m), but the net drew about one third of those numbers on Tuesday with the premiere of its social experiment series “Famous in 12” (0.2/1 in 18-49, 0.61m).

At Telemundo, Sunday’s second-season finale of “La Voz Kids” (a kids version of “The Voice”) averaged a 1.0/3 in 18-49 and 2.63 million viewers overall — on par with last year.

Bravo and E! were neck and neck as the top basic cable network in 18-49 on Sunday, paced by “Real Housewives of Atlanta: Kandi’s Wedding” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 2.46 million viewers overall) and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (1.1/3 in 18-49, 2.42m), respectively. Also for Bravo on the night, the season finale of “Fashion Queens” scored over 1 million total viewers, up 52% from its previous season finale; for the season, its 1.1 million average was 21% higher than its rookie year.

In its second week, AMC drama “Halt and Catch Fire” drew just 970,000 viewers; lead-in “Turn” managed to draw 1.61 million.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” drew the week’s highest 18-49 rating (3.7/11 share) — impressive considering the network is in about one-third of U.S. homes — while drawing 6.95 million viewers overall. It was followed by the season finale of “Veep,” which drew 945,000 at 10 p.m. and 664,000 for a second episode at 10:30; last year’s single-episode finale drew 985,000.

Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” drew 797,000 on Sunday, up from the previous week’s 730,000.



Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
ABC             2.3/8
NBC             1.6/6
UNI              1.0/4
CBS              0.9/3
Fox              0.9/3
TEL             0.6/2
CW              0.4/1

Total Viewers
ABC             6.90 million
CBS            5.85 million
NBC            5.65 million
Fox              3.01 million
UNI             2.63 million
TEL             1.53 million
CW              1.02 million

(Live plus same-day)

Adults 18-49
1.  NBA Finals: Game 2-Thursday (ABC), 6.0/20
2.  NBA Finals: Game 1-Sunday (ABC), 6.0/18
3.   Game of Thrones* (HBO), 3.7/11
4.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 2.9/10
5.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 2-Saturday (NBC), 2.1/9
6.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 2.0/8
6.  NBA Countdown-Thursday (ABC), 2.0/8
8.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 1-Wednesday (NBC), 1.9/7
8.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.9/6
10.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 1.8/6
10.  24: Live Another Day (Fox), 1.8/6
10.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.8/6
10.  Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 1.8/6
14.  Hell’s Kitchen (Fox), 1.7/6
15.  Modern Family-r (ABC), 1.6/5
15.  WWE Raw-10 p.m. (USA), 1.6/5
16.  20/20 (ABC), 1.5/6
16.  The Night Shift (NBC), 1.5/5
16.  So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), 1.5/5
16.  Celebrity Wife Swap (ABC), 1.5/5
16.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.5/5

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NBA Finals: Game 2-Sunday (ABC), 15.13
2.  NBA Finals: Game 1-Thursday (ABC), 14.85
3.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 11.30
4.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 8.79
5.  NCIS-r (CBS), 8.61
6.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.51
7.  NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS), 7.69
8.  68th Annual Tony Awards (CBS), 7.05
9.  Game of Thrones* (HBO), 6.95
10.  The Night Shift (NBC), 6.87
11.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 6.74
12.  Blue Bloods-r (CBS), 6.65
13.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 2-Saturday (NBC), 6.41
14.  20/20 (ABC), 6.27
15.  48 Hours-Monday (CBS), 6.20
16.  24: Live Another Day (Fox), 6.18
17.  Mom, Thursday-r (CBS), 6.08
18. Criminal Minds-r (CBS), 6.07
19.  CSI-r (CBS), 5.90
20.  Dateline-Friday (NBC), 5.75

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