‘60 Minutes,’ NBA playoffs dominate ratings for week of Aug. 31

 James Harden of the Houston Rockets is defended by JaVale McGee of the Lakers.
James Harden of the Houston Rockets and JaVale McGee of the Lakers in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series, the week’s highest-rated sporting event.
(Getty Images)

For the first time Nielsen’s weekly prime-time ratings report included out-of-home viewing, and ratings for sporting events were significantly higher, according to live-plus-same-day figures for the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 6, released Wednesday.

The most-watched prime-time sporting event was the Lakers’ victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series, which averaged 5.432 million viewers, fourth for the week and first among ABC programs. That was 40.4% higher than the previous week’s most-watched sporting event, the NASCAR Coke Zero Sugar 400 stock car race on NBC, which averaged 3.869 million viewers.

Two other NBA playoff games were in the top 20 last week. Houston’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of their first-round series Sept. 2 on ESPN averaged 4.293 million viewers, 13th for the week. ESPN’s coverage of the Lakers Game 1 loss to the Rockets averaged 4.035 million viewers, 18th for the week and first among Friday programs.


Viewership for both cable networks carrying NBA playoff games increased significantly. ESPN averaged 1.488 million viewers, up 208.7% from its 482,000 average the previous week. TNT averaged 1.74 million viewers, up 13.2% from its 1.537 million average and third among the week’s cable networks, one spot lower than the previous week. ESPN was fourth, one week after finishing 19th.

The week’s most-watched prime-time program was the CBS News magazine “60 Minutes,” which averaged 6.449 million viewers for an edition with three previously broadcast segments that were updated. It was the sixth time “60 Minutes” has been the most-watched program during the 15 weeks of television’s 2020 summer season.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” has finished first eight times while Fox News Channel’s coverage of President Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was first the other week.

The Tuesday “America’s Got Talent” episode was the week’s only other program to average more than 6 million viewers, averaging 6.406 million viewers.

The U.S. premiere of the Canadian medical drama “Transplant,” which followed the Tuesday “America’s Got Talent” episode, averaged 3.959 million viewers, most among the week’s 10 p.m. dramas, sixth among entertainment programs and 19th overall.

Fox News Channel was the top-ranked network for the second consecutive week and fifth time since June, averaging 3.427 million viewers. NBC edged ABC, 2.82 million to 2.81 million, to finish second. CBS was fourth, averaging 2.58 million viewers.

Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the 32nd time in 33 weeks. MSNBC was second, averaging 2.111 million.