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NBA Finals don’t awe

NBC takes week's 18-49 and total viewers crown

Even the season’s best pro basketball ratings weren’t enough to put ABC in the winner’s circle last week.

With the NBA Finals delivering an audience significantly smaller than recent seasons, the Alphabet settled for a second-place primetime finish among young adults last week — despite a strong close to the frame with Sunday’s series-clinching Game 6. During each of the past seven seasons that NBC carried pro basketball, the net led the week of the Finals and the frame was among the summer’s highest-rated.

ABC did produce its best weekly 18-49 rating in four weeks (2.9), according to Nielsen, but that wasn’t enough to catch NBC (3.2), which prevailed for a third straight week to start the summer.

The Peacock, which also eked past CBS to lead the week in total viewers (8.36 million), was boosted by the two-hour Tuesday preem of “Last Comic Standing” (4.5/13 in 18-49), which easily led its 9-11 slot and delivered the best men 18-49 rating for any of the 11 contest shows to bow since Fox’s “Joe Millionaire” in January (4.4/13).

Also contributing to the weekly victory were Thursday laffers “Friends” (4.7/16 in 18-49), “Will & Grace” (4.6/14) and “Scrubs” (4.0/13) and Sunday unscripted courtroom skein “Crime and Punishment,” whose 3.1/9 in 18-49 matched the score of its lead-in from a repeat of “Law & Order: CI.”

Net’s contest show “Fame” lost some steam, though, settling for a 9 shares in adults 18-49 after bowing to a 13 two weeks earlier.

The NBA Finals finished with an average aud of 9.86 million (down 37% year-to-year) and a 4.1/13 in adults 18-49 (down 39%) — both the lowest on record.

In total viewers, last week’s three Finals games on ABC ranked Nos. 6, 17 and 21. A year ago, NBC’s lone telecast was No. 1 for the week.

ABC did win the frame among men 18-49, delivering four of the top five shows in the three NBA Finals contests and Monday’s Game 7 of hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals, which became the sport’s most-watched telecast in the U.S. in at least 16 years (7.17 million).

At Fox, “American Juniors” declined by 27% in its second week, but still topped its Tuesday-at-8 hour (3.5/12 in A18-49), while lead-out drama “Keen Eddie” ran a weak third (2.2/6).

Net got pretty good mileage out of a two-hour Monday spec called “Test the Nation” (3.2/9 in A18-49), which tested auds’ intelligence, and again dominated Saturday’s weak broadcast lot with “America’s Most Wanted” (2.5/9).

Fox edged out NBC to win in adults 18-34 (2.8/10), its 20th consecutive weekly victory in the demo.

CBS, with contest shows “Big Brother” and “Cupid” not debuting until July, was fourth in 18-49 and third in 25-54, led by a repeat of “CSI” on Thursday that was the week’s No. 1 program in 18-49 (5.0/15, tied), 25-54 (6.0/16) and total viewers (14.58m).

“Amazing Race 4” continues to perform OK on Thursday, but new laffer “Charlie Lawrence” bowed to historic-low timeslot ratings on Sunday (0.9/3 in 18-49).

UPN remained ahead of the WB in adults 18-34, with both nets topping last year’s numbers.

The Frog, up a big 40% year-to-year, doubled up on some of its most popular shows, with impressive results coming on Friday, where “What I Like About You” and “Reba” paced the net to victory among women 18-34. “WWE Smackdown” helped UPN win Thursday in most male demos.

Among ad-supported cable nets last week, USA and TNT tied for the top spot in adults 18-49 (0.8 rating), with TNT leading in overall audience (2.13 million). Discovery’s “Walking With Cavemen” spec was the week’s most-watched program (4.78 million).

Disney Channel, meanwhile, scored Friday with the premiere of “The Even Stevens Movie,” which was the day’s most-watched cable program (5.1 million) and dominated among demos like kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14.

* * *

Monday of the current week saw Fox’s new unscripted program “Anything for Love” get off to a ho-hum start, averaging a 2.7/8 in adults 18-49 at 9 and a 2.9/8 at 9:30 with a second episode (ranking third both half-hours).

NBC’s “Meet My Folks” returned at 10 and placed second (3.6/10 in A18-49, 7.40m) to a repeat of “CSI: Miami” on CBS. “Folks” held on to its lead-in from another contest show, “For Love or Money” (3.6/10 in A18-49, 7.75m), which was down another 14% week-to-week but remained second in the 9 o’clock hour.

ABC struck out with its “The View” primetime spec at 10 (1.5/4 in A18-49, 4.52m).

In latenight, CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” scored a rare victory in metered-market local overnights opposite NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (4.8/12 to 4.6/11), although Leno is expected to win the night in nationals. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens appeared on the CBS show.

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