NBA playoffs dunk on their TV ratings competition

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks leaves his feet to take a shot in a crowd.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks heads for the net as Blake Griffin, left, and Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets defend during Game 7 of their playoffs series.
(Elsa/Getty Images)

NBA playoff games on TNT and ESPN accounted for five of last week’s seven top-rated prime-time programs, led by TNT’s coverage of the decisive seventh game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

An average of 6.906 million viewers watched Milwaukee’s 115-111 overtime victory Saturday that ousted Brooklyn, the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. The audience was the largest for an NBA game this season.

TNT’s coverage of the Atlanta Hawks’ 103-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday averaged 6.162 million viewers, second both among prime-time programs airing between June 14 and Sunday and NBA games this season.


TNT’s NBA playoff coverage made it the week’s top-ranked network, broadcast or cable, averaging 3.493 million viewers. NBC was second, averaging 3.2 million. NBC’s viewership was bolstered by the 96-minute overrun of its coverage of the final round of golf’s U.S Open into primetime Sunday that averaged 8.8 million viewers.

CBS was third overall, averaging 2.71 million viewers, followed by ABC, which averaged 2.67 million.

Fox News Channel was fifth overall and second among cable networks, averaging 2.14 million. ESPN was sixth overall and third among cable networks, averaging 1.665 million viewers.

Fox was seventh, averaging 1.45 million viewers.

The CW again was far behind, finishing fifth among the five major English-language broadcast networks, averaging 570,000 viewers.

ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud” was the top ranked entertainment program, averaging 5.402 million viewers, third for the week, for games matching the families of “Fox NFL Sunday” host Terry Bradshaw and Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and the pop rock band OneRepublic and the cast of the FX drama “Mayans M.C.”

“America’s Got Talent” dropped to 11th following back-to-back first-place finishes, averaging 4.205 million viewers for an hourlong episode beginning at 10 p.m. in most of the nation, two hours later than its two-hour episodes. The later start was the result of NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

“60 Minutes” was fourth for the week following back-to-back second-place finishes, averaging 4.887 million viewers opposite the U.S. Open runover in the Eastern and Central time zones where the bulk of the nation’s population lives. Viewership was down 24.9% from its 6.511 million average the previous week.

Fox’s biggest audience was for the cooking competition “Hell’s Kitchen,” 54th for the week averaging 2.601 million viewers.


The CW’s ratings leader was was the crime drama “Walker,” which averaged 987,000 viewers, 115th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The premiere of ABC’s “The Celebrity Dating Game” was 46th for the week and third in its 10 p.m. time slot June 14, averaging 2.751 million viewers.

The other premiere on the five major broadcast networks, the CW drama “The Republic of Sarah,” averaged 464,000 viewers, tying for 193rd place among programming on broadcast television. Its time slot and overall finish were not available.

The Netflix zombie heist movie “Army of the Dead” topped the weekly list of the most-watched programs on the four streaming services whose viewership figures are announced by Nielsen for the week of May 17-23. Viewers spent 913 million minutes watching the film directed by “Justice League” director Zack Snyder in its first three days of release on Netflix, which started streaming the film on May 21 — one week after its opening in select theaters.