Weekly Ratings: NBC Rolls With ‘America’s Got Talent,’ ‘Ninja Warrior’ and ‘I Can Do That’

I Can Do That NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Memorial Day helped ushered in the start of television’s summer season last week, which was dominated by reality programs and the NBA Playoffs.

NBC, whose “America’s Got Talent” has been the No. 1 summer series in recent years, won the May 25-31 frame in key demos and also won in total viewers for the first time since it aired the Super Bowl four months ago, according to Nielsen estimates. “Talent” was the top series in most categories, and the net also got some nice performances from “American Ninja Warrior” as well as newcomer “I Can Do That.”

Airing Tuesday at 10 p.m. behind “America’s Got Talent” (2.6/9 in 18-49, 11.09 million viewers overall), the series premiere of “I Can Do That” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 6.40 million viewers overall) became the highest-rated summer launch in 18-49 since CBS’ “Under the Dome” nearly two years ago. It was easily the timeslot’s top series in 18-49 — matching the combined scores of shows on ABC and CBS — and finished behind only “Talent” among the week’s top series.

“I Can Do That” tied for the week with Monday’s “American Ninja Warrior” (1.8/6 in 18-49, 5.87 million viewers overall), whose two-hour season premiere was up 13% over last year’s opener. That gave NBC the week’s top three ad-supported entertainment series.

NBC also got a boost last week from NHL playoff action on Saturday (1.5/6 in 18-49, 4.60 million viewers overall for Game 7 between Chicago and Anaheim), while Charles Manson drama “Aquarius” opened OK on Thursday (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.67 million viewers overall) — unsurprisingly looking healthier in total viewers and adults 25-54 (1.6/5). And in the modest-to-OK range was Monday’s premiere of Bear Grylls series “The Island” (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.75 million viewers overall)

NBA action dominated the frame’s early action, with playoff games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all ranking among the week’s top five programs in 18-49. Leading the way was Wednesday’s fifth and final game of the Western Conference Finals on ESPN between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets (3.6/12 in 18-49, 8.89 million viewers overall)

Elsewhere, CBS introduced reality series “The Briefcase” to solid numbers Wednesday (1.4/5 in 18-49, 6.87 million viewers overall) — a big improvement over the launch of “The American Baking Competition” in the same timeslot two years ago (1.0). It was the Eye’s only firstrun entertainment series last week.

At ABC, seven-night gameshow event “500 Questions” ended its run Thursday with average numbers (1.1/4 in 18-49, 5.03 million viewers overall) while “Extreme Weight Loss” returned to sluggish ratings on Tuesday (0.9/3 in 18-49, 2.90 million viewers overall). Faring better was the return of “What Would You Do?” (1.3/5 in 18-49, 4.56 million viewers overall), which was Friday’s top show in 18-49.

Fox’s “Wayward Pines” held steady in its third week (1.2/4 in 18-49, 3.97 million viewers overall), paired with “Bones” (1.2/5 in 18-49, 5.42 million viewers overall) to give the net a pretty good Thursday night. “Bullseye” did decently on Wednesday (1.1/4 in 18-49, 3.32 million viewers overall), while the revival of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 3.30 million viewers overall) didn’t make the grade on Tuesday (though it could benefit from the exit of “500 Questions” from the timeslot). And on Sunday, former latenight “Animation Domination HD” series “Golan the Insatiable” opened to predictably modest results (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.59 million viewers overall) behind a repeat “Family Guy” (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.04 million viewers overall).

In cable, History’s miniseries “Texas Rising” got off to an OK but underwhelming start Monday (0.65 rating in 18-49, 4.1 million viewers overall) and then dropped off some on its second night Tuesday (0.48 in 18-49, 3.4 million). While 4.1 million is pretty good for a cable program, the tune-in for the premiere of “Texas Rising” was less than one-third of that for the opening night of History’s record-setting “Hatfields & McCoys” on Memorial Day in 2012 (13.9 million) and “The Bible” in March 2013 (13.1 million).

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (3.4/12 in 18-49, 7.01 million viewers overall) bounced back from its holiday-weekend season low, leading all scripted programs for the week in 18-49.

Spike’s “Lip Sync Battle” closed its first season strong Thursday (1.0/4 in 18-49, 1.91 million viewers overall), tying with NBC’s “Aquarius” for the 10 p.m. half-hour’s timeslot lead and standing as the No. 1 cable show in numerous categories.

At Bravo, Monday’s second-season finale of “Southern Charm” (0.50 rating in 18-49, 1.39 million viewers overall) hit series highs in adults 18-49 rating (0.78) and total viewers (1.7 million) in Live+3 estimates from Nielsen, rising about 10% from last year’s finale. The same night also saw “Shahs of Sunset” (0.57 rating in 18-49, 1.23 million viewers overall) hit Live+3 season highs in many categories.

ABC Family’s “Young and Hungry” (0.48 rating in 18-49, 926,000) continued its hot streak to end the season, with its Wednesday finale establishing a series high in adults 18-34 (0.91 rating) and a season (and nearly series) high in 18-49 (0.70), according to Live+3 estimates. For the season, it ranked as cable’s No. 1 original series in its Wednesday-at-8 timeslot among adults 18-49, adults 18-34 and key female demos.

Animal Planet wrapped its 4th annual Monster Week, which was led by the scripted movie event “The Cannibal in the Jungle” (1.6 million viewers) and the season finale of “River Monsters” (1.5 million viewers), according to Nielsen Live+3 ratings. Monster Week helped the network log its most watched week (858,000 viewers on average) in nearly two years. And on Monday of last week, the eight-part documentary series “The Last Alaskans,” which chronicles the story of an isolated handful of people living in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, attracted 935,000 viewers in Live+3.

The “5th Annual Critics Choice TV Awards,” telecast on A&E for the first time, on Sunday averaged 522,000 viewers for its initial airing, well down from the 1.03 million it drew last year when it aired on broadcaster CW. Its cume audience for three airings on Sunday (two replays plus the live telecast) was about 1.08 million viewers.

(Live plus same-day for May 25-31, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
NBC                            1.3/5
ABC                         0.93/3
ESPN                      0.92/3
UNI                          0.80/3
CBS                          0.79/3
Fox                           0.79/3
TEL                          0.58/2
TNT                         0.56/2
USA                         0.53/2
TBS                          0.52/2

Total Viewers (in millions)
NBC                        5.49
CBS                         5.37
ABC                        3.90
Fox                         2.70
ESPN                     2.57
UNI                        2.21
History                  1.86
USA                        1.76
Disney                   1.67
HGTV                    1.59
(Live plus same-day for May 25-31, 2015)

Adults 18-49 (rating/share)
1.  NBA Playoffs-Wednesday: Houston-Golden State (ESPN), 3.6/12
2.  NBA Playoffs-Monday: Golden State-Houston (ESPN), 3.4/12
3.  Game of Thrones (HBO), 3.4/12*
4.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 2.6/9
5.  NBA Playoffs-Tuesday: Cleveland-Atlanta (TNT), 2.5/9
6.  I Can Do That (NBC), 1.8/6
6.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 1.8/6
8.  MasterChef (Fox), 1.6/6
8.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 1.6/5
10.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 1.5/6
10.  NHL Playoffs-Saturday: Chicago-Anaheim (NBC), 1.5/6
12.  The Briefcase (CBS), 1.4/5
13.  What Would You Do? (ABC), 1.3/5
14.  NHL Playoffs-Friday: Tampa Bay-New York (NBCSN), 1.2/5
14.  Dateline-Thursday (NBC), 1.2/5
14.  Bones (Fox), 1.2/5
14.  Criminal Minds (CBS), 1.2/4
14.  The Island (NBC), 1.2/4
14.  WWE Raw (USA), 1.2/4
14.  Wayward Pines (Fox), 1.2/4

Total Viewers (in millions)
1.  America’s Got Talent (NBC), 11.09
2.  NBA Playoffs-Wednesday: Houston-Golden State (ESPN), 8.89
3.  NCIS-r (CBS), 8.57
4.  NBA Playoffs-Monday: Golden State-Houston (ESPN), 8.28
5.  60 Minutes (CBS), 8.26
6.  NCIS: New Orleans-r (CBS), 7.77
7.  The Big Bang Theory-r (CBS), 7.61
8.  Game of Thrones (HBO), 7.00*
9.  The Briefcase (CBS), 6.87
10.  Criminal Minds-r (CBS), 6.71
11.  Dateline-Thursday (NBC), 6.40
11.  I Can Do That (NBC), 6.40
13.  Blue Bloods (CBS), 6.34
14.  NBA Playoffs-Tuesday: Atlanta-Cleveland (TNT), 6.27
15.  Dateline-Sunday (NBC), 6.23
16.  American Ninja Warrior (NBC), 5.86
17.  CSI: Cyber (CBS), 5.69
18.  Aquarius (CBS), 5.67
19.  2 Broke Girls-r (CBS), 5.38
20.  The Bachelorette (ABC), 5.37

*not supported by advertising