TV Ratings: NBA Finals, Newsmags Dominate Early Summer

The series of NBA Finals matchups between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors have been dominating television ratings, with Games 3, 4 and 5 on ABC claiming the top three spots in the ratings race for the week ending June 14, according to data from Nielsen.

Through five games, the Finals averaged 19.3 million viewers per game, a big 24% increase from last year’s Finals series between Miami and San Antonio. Heading into Tuesday’s Game 6, this year’s series is on track to be the most-watched in 17 years (Michael Jordan’s last Finals).

Sunday night’s Game 5 won the week with 20.9 million viewers, followed by Thursday night’s  Game 4, which scored 19.8 million viewers. Last Tuesday’s Game 3 was the third-highest rated program of the week with 18.8 million viewers.

A different kind of televised power struggle also drew massive viewership: The season-five finale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was watched by 8.1 million viewers, the series’ largest audience ever and the leader of all cable shows for the week. The record-breaking audience for the shocking season-ender was 14% larger than last season’s finale.

Newsmagazine programming typically performs better in the rankings during the summer opposite lesser competition, and that was the case last week when three of them cracked the top 15.than during the traditional television season. with fewer primetime competitors. “60 Minutes” on CBS pulled in 7.7 million viewers on Sunday night, while NBC’s “Dateline” drew 6.5 million and CBS’ special Tuesday edition of “48 Hours” drew 5.6 million.

As far as new summer programming goes, NBC’s new celebrity competition series “I Can Do That” is shaping up to be the strongest in the crop. The Marlon Wayans-hosted variety hour drew 5.5 million viewers in its Tuesday night timeslot.

Not every new show is holding quite as steady as “I Can Do That.” “The Briefcase” on CBS has dipped in its third week after a promising start, pulling in 4.9 million viewers in its third week. ABC’s “The Whispers” also took a tumble, pulling in 4.2 million viewers after bowing with 5.7  million the week before.

ABC won easily among the networks thanks to the NBA Finals, averaging 9 million viewers per evening. CBS distantly followed with a nightly average of 5 million, with NBC’s 4.9 million close behind.

For the week of June 8-14, the top 10 programs, their networks and their viewerships: “NBA Finals, Game 5,” ABC, 20.9 million; “NBA Finals, Game 4,” ABC, 19.8 million; “NBA Finals, Game 3,” ABC, 18.8 million; “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 10.4 million; “Game of Thrones,” HBO, 8.1 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.7 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 7.2 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 7.1 million; “American Ninja Warrior,” NBC, 7 million; “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 6.6 million.

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