TV Ratings: NBC Wins the Week with ‘America’s Got Talent’

NBC has been a strong summer ratings performer in recent years, and it celebrated the start of TV’s summer season last week with a rare primetime ratings victory.

Edging out the usually dominant CBS, NBC averaged 5.5 million viewers per evening, the net’s first win since airing the Super Bowl in early February, according to Nielsen. NBC owes its summer bump to the triumphant return of “America’s Got Talent,” which drew 11.1 million viewers last Tuesday, more than any other program of the week. The competition series is usually a summer favorite, though its 10th season bow of 11.1 million was down from last year’s 12 million.

NBC’s newest scripted series, “Aquarius,” debuted to a decent audience Thursday night, finishing in the top 20 with 5.7 million viewers tuning in. The 1960s-set David Duchovny starrer follows the early days of the notorious Charles Manson, focusing heavily on music from the era.

A pair of NBC’s outings were outliers from its otherwise strong week. The iHeartRadio Country Fest on Wednesday night drew a disappointing 4.2 million viewers, which could be bad news for upcoming country specials such as the CMT Music Awards. NBC’s second setback came in the form of a quiet reception for the premiere of Bear Grylls-hosted “The Island.” The new survival reality series drew just 3.7 million viewers when it bowed Monday night.

CBS was hot on the heels of NBC’s big week, averaging 5.4 million viewers per evening and occupying seven of the top 10 broadcast ratings slots. The Eye’s signature programming fared well, as usual: “NCIS,” “60 Minutes” and “The Big Bang Theory” all finished in the top five. Freshman reality series “The Briefcase” debuted to 6.9 million viewers, a solid premiere good for a sixth-place finish.

Other broadcasters trailed NBC and CBS, with ABC averaging 3.9 million viewers per night and Fox averaging 2.7 million per night. Univision followed with an average of 2.2 million, beating out Telemundo’s 1.4 million. The CW drew an average of 1 million viewers per evening.

ESPN won the cable race for the week, with Wednesday’s NBA Western Conference Finals: Game 5 pulling in 8.9 million viewers. The Wednesday matchup between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors was the second most-watched program of the week. HBO’s crown jewel, “Game of Thrones,” continues its reign over scripted cable series. Its Sunday installment drew 7 million viewers, good for seventh place in the overall ratings.

For the week of May 25-31, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 11.1 million; “NBA Western Conference Finals: Game 5 (Houston v. Golden State),” ESPN, 8.9 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 8.6 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.3 million; “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 7.8 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 7.6 million; “Game of Thrones,” HBO, 7 million; “The Briefcase,” CBS, 6.9 million; “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 6.7 million; “Dateline,” NBC, 6.4 million.

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