Weekly Ratings: ABC Slam-Dunks Rivals With NBA Finals

NBC had more of the top-rated shows, but three games of the NBA Finals helped make ABC the dominant primetime network in key demos last week, according to Nielsen estimates.

This year’s finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors was on track to become the highest-rated ever on ABC, which began airing the event in 2002. Last week’s three contests were the top three programs in the adults 18-49 demo, with both Thursday and Sunday’s games averaging  7.6 rating, and Tuesday’s Game 3 close behind (7.3).

Pro basketball’s championship round also occupied the top three spots on the total-viewer rankings, with Sunday’s Game 5 drawing the most viewers (20.86 million) — the largest audience for a Game 5 of the NBA Finals since 2004 (Lakers-Pistons). This year’s five-game average of 19.3 million was up a hefty 24% vs. last year’s Miami-San Antonio series (15.6 million) and this Finals is expected to finish as the most-watched in 17 years (since Michael Jordan’s final championship with the Chicago Bulls).

The week’s top-rated entertainment series was HBO’s fifth-season finale of “Game of Thrones,” which did a 4.1 rating in 18-49 (its second best ever) while drawing the show’s largest overall audience to date (8.11 million). This was especially impressive since it went up against the NBA Finals on ABC (20.9 million viewers) in most of the country.

In addition to the NBA Finals action, ABC got a boost from Wednesday’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.33 million viewers overall), which hit season highs in all demos. And airing in conjunction with the NBA Finals (before it in most of the country and after it in the West), Thursday’s “Jimmy Kimmel Game Night” delivered the program’s best ratings since it began in 2008 (1.4/6 in 18-49, 4.4 million viewers overall), rising vs. last year’s comparable episode by 44% in the demo and 22% in total viewers.

Not so hot for the Alphabet was the second week of Monday drama “The Whispers” (1.0/3 in 18-49, 4.24 million viewers overall), which was down about 30% from its premiere.

NBC could claim three of the week’s top four broadcast series in adults 18-49, led as usual by “America’s Got Talent” (2.3/8 in 18-49, 10.44 million viewers overall). The net’s hottest show, though, is Monday’s “American Ninja Warrior,” which matched a three-year high in adults 18-49 (2.3/8) while delivering its largest-ever overall audience (6.99 million). And newcomer “I Can Do That” (1.6/5 in 18-49, 5.52 million viewers overall) remains a good fit behind “America’s Got Talent” on Tuesday, again winning its timeslot in demos.

The Peacock also won Saturday with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final (1.7/8 in 18-49, 5.26 million viewers overall). This year’s Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, which wrapped in six games on Monday of the current week, finished as the second most-watched of the past 20 years.

On the scripted side, “Aquarius” (0.81/3 in 18-49, 3.74 million viewers overall) edged back up after taking a tumble the previous week, but “Hannibal” (0.46/2 in 18-49, 1.66 million viewers overall) dropped from its already-low season opener.

Fox’s “Wayward Pines” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.24 million viewers overall) continued its solid run, holding steady week to week and matching the previous week’s series-best rating in L+3 (2.0). For the week, the network was paced once again in “live plus same-day” by “MasterChef” (1.5/6 in 18-49, 4.83 million viewers overall), which matched its season high in L+3 (2.0) to tie “Wayward” as the net’s top show in this window.

At CBS, “The Briefcase” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 4.88 million viewers overall) gained back a tick after a week-2 tumble. It was the only original entertainment program for the Eye, whose weekly 18-49 average (0.73) is believed to be the lowest ever for any of the Big Four networks (a bit below two Fox weeks from last August that did a 0.76). Fortunately for it, “Big Brother” returns next week.

The week’s top 18-49 scores among the basic cable series were VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta” (1.4/5, 2.60 million viewers overall), Discovery’s “Street Outlaws” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 2.37 million viewers overall), ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” (1.0/4 in 18-49, 2.13 million viewers overall) and Discovery’s “Alaskan Bush People” (0.95 in 18-49, 3.61 million viewers overall).

Elsewhere, TNT’s “Major Crimes” (0.53 in 18-49, 3.99 million viewers overall in L+SD) returned Monday down rather sharply from its year-ago opener (0.94 in 18-49, 5.16 million) but up from its season 3 finale in January (0.50 in 18-49, 3.48 million); in Live+3, it rose to a strong 1.65 rating in adults 25-54 and about 7 million total viewers, making it the week’s top scripted basic cable series in both categories. Airing behind it, and not looking as good, was “Murder in the First” (0.34 in 18-49, 2.38 million viewers overall), which hit lows as it opened its second season.

Lifetime’s “Devious Maids” (0.56 rating in 18-49, 1.42 million viewers overall in Live+SD) was up 6% in the demo vs. its week-earlier season premiere, but lead-out rookie “UnReal” (0.26 in 18-49, 707,000 viewers overall) was down 10% from its modest debut.

At ABC Family, Monday’s transgender-themed drama “Becoming Us” (0.23 in 18-49, 638,000 viewers overall in L+SD) was slow out of the gate, airing behind the return of “The Fosters” (0.46, 1.26 million viewers overall in L+SD), which was down a slim 6% in 18-49 vs. last season’s premiere (0.50). In target demos, the best retention for “Becoming Us” out of “Fosters” was 58% in women 18-34 (0.45 vs. 0.78).

Faring better was Wednesday’s “Baby Daddy” (0.40 in 18-49, 743,000 viewers overall in L+SD), which surged in Live+3 to multi-month highs across target demos including adults 18-34 (0.80 rating, or 541,000 viewers), a category in which it led all cable series for the night. The comedy built nicely over its “Melissa & Joey” lead-in, including by 22% in adults 18-34 (0.80 vs. 0.65) for the show’s second best rating in more than a year.

Bravo had its best Monday in more than a year with its “Shahs of Sunset” reunion (0.58 in 18-49, 1.33 million viewers overall in L+SD), the season premiere of “Real Housewives of Orange County” (0.73, 1.74 million) and the series premiere of scripted comedy series “Odd Mom Out” (0.39, 864,000 million), which was down about 15% from the premiere of the net’s first scripted series, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” last December. In Live+3, “Real Housewives” (1.24 rating in 18-49, 2.6 million viewers overall) was up over last year by about 10% in key demos and 15% in total viewers.

Syfy’s “Defiance” (0.23 rating in 18-49, 1.11 million viewers overall in Live+SD) looked shaky opening its second season, with its two-hour episode posting easily the show’s lowest scores to date. Given that slight lead-in, space-set drama “Dark Matter” fared OK in its premiere (0.31 rating in 18-49, 1.28 million viewers overall); it was cable’s No. 4 original for the night in men 25-54 (0.56 rating).

CNN’s original series “The Seventies” (887,000 total viewers) had a solid premiere on Thursday, with its audience in the news demo of adults 25-54 (291,000) larger than that for the 9 p.m. programming on Fox News (278,000 for “The Kelly File”) and more than triple that of MSNBC (94,000 for “Rachel Maddow Show”). It was also up a bit vs. last year’s CNN debut of “The Sixties” (291,000 vs. 284,000).

On Sunday, the net’s debut of Jake Tapper as host of “State of the Union” had a sluggish showing at 9 a.m. (381,000 viewers; 62,000 adults 25-54) but rose considerably with its noon airing (581,000; 120,000), which led all of cable news in the demo for this hour.

Fox News Channel’s “Legends and Lies,” which will return next season as “Legends and Lies: Patriots,” wrapped its first batch of episodes Sunday as the weekend’s most-watched cable news program (1.24 million viewers). During its first season, the historical series from Bill O’Reilly averaged 214,000 adults 25-54 and about 1.2 million total viewers — up vs. the FNC year-ago programming in the time period by 116% in the demo and 47% in overall audience.

Following HBO’s season finale of “Game of Thrones,” comedy “Silicon Valley” (1.15 rating in 18-49, 2.11 million viewers overall) drew its best numbers since its season premiere while “Veep” hit a season high in total viewers (1.11 million).

 

WEEK’S TOP BROADCAST NETWORKS
(Live plus same-day; June 8-14, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
ABC……………………….  3.1/11
NBC ………………………  1.2/4
Fox ……………………….   1.0/4
UNI ………………………   0.8/3
CBS ……………………….  0.7/3
TEL ……………………….  0.5/2
CW ………………………..  0.3/1

Total Viewers (in millions)
ABC ……………………….  9.02
CBS ……………………….  5.02
NBC ………………………  4.93
Fox ………………………..  3.36
UNI ……………………….  2.29
TEL ……………………….  1.25
CW ………………………..  0.93

WEEK’S TOP PRIMETIME PROGRAMS
(Live plus same-day; June 8-14, 2015)

Adults 18-49
1.  NBA Finals: Game 4-Thursday (ABC), 7.6/26
2.  NBA Finals: Game 5-Sunday (ABC), 7.6/25
3.  NBA Finals: Game 3-Tuesday (ABC), 7.3/25
4.  Game of Thrones* (HBO), 4.1/13
5.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 2.3/8
6.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 2.1/7
7.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 1.8/6
8.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 5-Saturday (NBC), 1.7/8
9.  I Can Do That (NBC), 1.6/5
10.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.5/6
10.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.5/6
12.  Jimmy Kimmel Live Game Night-Thursday (ABC), 1.4/6
12.  Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta (VH1), 1.4/5
12.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 3-Monday (NBC), 1.4/4
15.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 4-Wednesday (NBC), 1.3/5
16.  Bones (Fox), 1.2/5
16.  Dateline (NBC), 1.2/5
16.  The Odd Couple (CBS), 1.2/4
16.  Modern Family (ABC), 1.2/4
16.  Wayward Pines (Fox), 1.2/4
16.  Celebrity Wife Swap (ABC), 1.2/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  NBA Finals: Game 5-Sunday (ABC), 20.86
2.  NBA Finals: Game 4-Thursday (ABC), 19.84
3.  NBA Finals: Game 3-Tuesday (ABC), 18.77
4.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 10.44
5.  Game of Thrones* (HBO), 8.11
6.  60 Minutes (CBS), 7.70
7.  NCIS-r (CBS), 7.15
8.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.14
9.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 6.99
10.  NCIS: New Orleans-r (CBS), 6.61
11.  Dateline-Thursday (NBC), 6.46
12.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 6.37
13.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 5.96
14.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 5.79
15.  48 Hours-Tuesday (CBS), 5.57
16.  I Can Do That (NBC), 5.52
17.  The Odd Couple-r (CBS), 5.48
18.  NCIS: Los Angeles-r (CBS), 5.47
19.  CSI: Cyber-r (CBS), 5.43
20.  NHL Stanley Cup Final: Game 5-Saturday (NBC), 5.26

Source: Nielsen

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