NBA Finals on ABC Dominate Thursday, Help Kimmel Top Fallon for the First Time

UPDATE: In updated nationals released late Friday by Nielsen, Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC averaged a 6.0 rating/20 share in adults 18-49 and 14.85 million viewers overall. In a reversal of the overnights, which had the game down slightly from last year, the nationals put this year’s opener up 5% in the demo (to 6.0/20) and 4% in total viewers (to 14.85 million). This is the third largest audience to start for the NBA Finals in the last 10 years — behind only the 16.20 million for Miami-Oklahoma City in 2012 and the 15.17 million for Dallas-Miami in 2011. The 6.0 demo rating is also the third best in the last 10 years.

The only revision in adults 18-49 among original broadcast series on Thursday was an uptick for Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (1.7/6 in 18-49, 4.78 million viewers overall); this puts it up 6% week-to-week.


It was pretty much the NBA Finals and everything else on Thursday, as the opening game of the series between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs on ABC towered over the competition, just about at last year’s level when the same teams met. The strong showing in primetime also helped boost ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to its first overnight victory over an original episode of NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, the Spurs’ 110-95 victory over the defending champs averaged a 10.4 household rating — down from last year’s Game 1 between the same teams (10.6).  A repeat of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” ranked second on the night (6.0).

The high-water mark for an NBA Finals opener on ABC remains the 2012 contest between the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, which did an 11.8 rating.

In latenight, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” averaged a 3.1 household rating/9 share in the overnights, ahead of “Tonight Show” (2.6/7) and its second highest-rated telecast since moving to 11:35 p.m. in January 2013. (Thursday’s show actually started later than usual due to basketball).

In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, “Kimmel” also prevailed in adults 18-49, with a 1.5/8 to “Tonight’s” 1.0/5. adults 18-49 — the show’s highest since the timeslot switch.

Looking at the primetime action, the NBA Finals Game 1 did a 5.1 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 and 12.6 million viewers overall on ABC’s stations from 9 to 11 p.m., with these numbers subject to significant revision due to the game’s late start and time zone differences. Last year’s game did a 4.9 demo rating in the same window, and in the final nationals last year, the game in its entirety did a 5.7/18 in 18-49 and 14.24 million viewers overall.

Original shows airing opposite basketball took a hit Thursday, with NBC’s hour of “Undateable” averaging a 1.0/4 in 18-49 and about 3 million viewers overall, down 23% in the demo from last week’s premiere (1.3); as it did a week ago, the comedy did the same demo rating in both half-hours and was about on par in 18-49 with the repeat comedies on CBS airing in the same 9 o’clock hour. A year ago on the comparable night, an hour of firstrun comedy “Save Me” (airing at 8 p.m. and away from basketball in most of the country) did a 0.7 demo rating.

Also for NBC, “Hollywood Game Night” (1.1/4 in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) opened Thursday down a tick from last week, and reality competition series “Last Comic Standing” closed the night for the net (1.4/4 in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall), off 13% (0.2) from its score of last week.

At Fox, “Hell’s Kitchen” held steady at 8 (1.6/6 in 18-49, 4.6 million viewers overall) matched its delivery of last week. “Gang Related,” which faced the start of the NBA game in most of the country, did a 0.8/3 in 18-49 and 3 million viewers overall, down 20% (0.2) from last week (1.0) and 11% below its premiere of two weeks ago (0.9).

The repeat “Big Bang Theory” drew the night’s top scores for an entertainment series (2.0/8 in 18-49, 8.8 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: ABC, 4.2/14; CBS, NBC and Fox, 1.2/4; Univision, 1.0/3; Telemundo, 0.6/2; CW, 0.3/1.

In total viewers: ABC, 10.7 million; CBS, 5.7 million; NBC and Fox, 3.8 million; Univision, 2.7 million; Telemundo, 1.5 million; CW, 0.7 million.


More TV

  • Love Island - Pictured: Kyra Green,

    TV Ratings: Is 'Love Island' Deserted?

    Two weeks have passed on “Love Island” and plenty of singles have coupled and uncoupled in their bid for love and a fat $100,000 pay check. However, there’s one couple that doesn’t seem to be hitting it off: CBS and “Love Island.” Ratings for the show have been far from paradisiacal, and with the network [...]

  • Jenny Wall Eryk Casemiro Nickelodeon

    Jenny Wall Named Nickelodeon CMO, Eryk Casemiro Named Senior VP of Nickelodeon Preschool

    Nickelodeon has hired two new executives, tapping Jenny Wall to become chief marketing officer and Eryk Casemiro to become senior vice president of Nickelodeon Preschool. Most recently CMO at Spotify-owned Gimlet Media, Wall will be responsible for all on- and off-air consumer marketing, brand creative and content launches across all of Nickelodeon’s platforms, including Nicktoons, [...]

  • Liz Garbus on Why We May

    Liz Garbus on Why The World May Never Know 'Who Killed Garrett Phillips'

    By the time Liz Garbus’s two-part documentary “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” debuts on HBO, there could be a new public lead in the case of the murdered titular 12-year-old. As least, that’s what many may hope after the new St. Lawrence County district attorney admitted a new tip earlier this spring. Garbus says she would [...]

  • Mike Fleiss

    'Bachelor' Producers in Wait-and-See Mode Amid Police Probe Into Fleiss Incident

    Those working on “The Bachelor” and its sister shows are in wait-and-see mode as a domestic incident involving creator Mike Fleiss continues to be investigated in Kauai, according to sources close to production. The results of the police investigation are still pending, after Fleiss’ wife, Laura Fleiss, had accused him of attacking her in their [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Cable Blackouts Growing More Common, Even If Subscribers Get Angry

    Among media companies, “going dark” was once a matter of last resort. Now it’s an option that is seeing more light. CBS is not currently available on DirecTV or AT&T’s U-verse, the result of a battle over how much the two outlets’ owner, AT&T, ought to pay for the right to send CBS into millions [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content