Basketball hot, dramas not, for ABC

In week of big hoops ratings, new broadcast scripted shows struggle

In a week when ABC dominated the ratings race with the NBA Finals, early returns for its summer scripted skeins weren’t so bouncy.

Sunday’s launches of “Scoundrels” and “The Gates,” despite considerable promotion during basketball’s seven-game championship series, produced modest results. They didn’t embarrass by summer’s lower ratings standards — faring better than repeats but not as well as USA’s originals — but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of enthusiasm for them out of the starting block.

ABC may be offering the most firstrun scripted summer fare, but isn’t alone in seeing disappointing results. Auds, seemingly pleased with their reality staples and a handful of scripted shows on cable, are generally shunning summer scripted programming on the Big Four.

Fox’s “The Good Guys,” which is intended to continue airing in the fall, never even generating much sampling when it bowed a few weeks ago, and has stabilized at a low ratings level since. NBC’s comedy “100 Questions” and drama “Persons Unknown” similarly have performed poorly from the start.

And CBS seems to be sending its own distress signal to audiences by skedding its upcoming original drama “The Bridge” for primetime’s least-watched hour (Saturdays at 8). Originals of the net’s second season of cop drama “Flashpoint” are doing OK in the slightly higher-profile 9 p.m. hour on Fridays.

Overall for the week of June 14-20, according to Nielsen, ABC dunked its rivals with a 2.6 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 — well ahead of Fox (1.7/6), NBC (1.6/5), CBS and Univision (both 1.3/4) and top cabler USA (0.9/3). The Alphabet also cruised in adults 25-54 (2.8/8), persons 12-34 (2.3/9) and total viewers (7.5 million).

Leading the way for ABC, of course, were the final two games of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Tuesday’s Game 6 earned a second-place finish for the frame (7.1/21 in 18-49, 17.96m), but even it paled in comparison with the monster scores for Thursday’s Game 7 (11.4/33, 28.20m).

The Lakers’ narrow victory in Game 7 became the NBA’s top-rated contest in 12 years (since Chicago-Utah’s deciding game in 1998 drew 35.9 million); the highest-rated telecast of any type in demos since the Academy Awards on ABC in early March (13.3/33 in 18-49); and the top-rated summer telecast on any network (excluding Olympics) since the finale of the original “Survivor” on CBS in August 2000.

The series as a whole averaged a 7.3/22 in 18-49 and 18.14 million viewers overall, up 24% in the demo vs. last year’s Lakers-Orlando Magic matchup (5.9/17, 14.35m).

Elsewhere for ABC, the unscripted combo of “The Bachelorette” (2.6/8 in 18-49, 8.41m) and “True Beauty” (1.9/5, 5.27m) won Monday among young adults, but Sunday’s scripted skeins “Scoundrels” (1.3/4, 5.23m) and “The Gates” (1.5/5, 4.75m) opened sluggishly. “Gates,” the latest drama featuring vampires, fared the better of the two and likely picked up some of the younger aud exiting HBO’s “True Blood.”

Fox was led by “Hell’s Kitchen” (3.0/8 in 18-49, 6.52m) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (2.6/9, 6.55m). Its action comedy “Good Guys” settled for a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 4.29 million viewers overall on Monday, despite a stronger lead-in from firstrun drama “Lie to Me” (2.0/6, 6.48m).

Trend continued at NBC, which did well with “America’s Got Talent” (3.0/8, 10.55m) and U.S. Open golf on Sunday (2.2/9, 9.27m) but not so hot with scripted originals “Persons Unknown” on Monday (1.2/4, 2.52m) or “Friday Night Lights” on Friday (1.0/4, 3.43m).

Repeat-riddled CBS ranked fourth in both 18-49 and 25-54, though encores of “The Big Bang Theory” (2.6/7 in 18-49, 8.88m) and “Two and a Half Men” (2.4/7, 9.21m) were the week’s top scripted programs in both categories.

Its limited original fare included Wednesday spec “TV’s Greatest Surprises” (1.5/5, 6.58m) and Friday’s “Flashpoint” (1.4/5, 7.00m), which led its hour.

Univision ranked third for the week among all networks in adults 18-34 (behind only ABC and Fox), winning the 8 o’clock weeknight hour with “Hasta Que El Dinero Nos Separe” (For Love or Money).

In cable, USA finished on top in key demos and total viewers behind “Royal Pains” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 5.51m) and “Burn Notice” (1.6/4, 5.31m) — which held up well opposite the NBA clincher on Thursday — and Monday’s “WWE Raw” (1.8/5, 4.89m average for its two hours).

Also of note during the week were more impressive ratings for Monday’s “Pawn Stars” on History (2.2/6, 5.60m average for its two half-hours) and a good start for TV Land comedy “Hot in Cleveland” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 4.75m). The laffer was cable’s No. 1 program on Wednesday, and also drew another 2.4 million viewers for a repeat that same night.

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