It’s CBS for the win — again — for the week and the 2021-22 prime-time season

Three people, dressed in black for a funeral, sit on steps in a scene from "This Is Us."
Justin Hartley, left, Chrissy Metz and Sterling K. Brown in the series finale of “This is Us,” which helped NBC finish second among the big three TV networks.
(Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

The season finales of “NCIS” and “Chicago Fire” were the only scripted programs to top 7 million viewers in a week that included the final three days of the official 2021-22 television season and the first four of the 2022 summer season.

The 19th season finale of the CBS drama “NCIS” averaged 7.467 million viewers, second among prime-time programs airing between May 23 and Sunday, behind ESPN’s coverage of Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Wednesday.

The 10th season finale of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” averaged 7.03 million viewers to finish third. The series finale of the NBC family drama “This Is Us” was ninth for the week and fourth among nonsports programs, averaging 6.368 million viewers, surpassing 6 million for the first time since Nov. 17, 2020.


Even with NBC airing both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, CBS finished in first place for the 14th consecutive season and for the 19th time in 20 seasons, averaging 6.3 million viewers. NBC was second, averaging 6.07 million viewers, while ABC was third among broadcast networks airing a full 22 hours of prime-time programming each week, averaging 4.23 million viewers; Fox, which broadcasts an average of 16 hours per week, averaged 4.5 million. The CW, which broadcasts 14 hours per week, averaged 660,000 viewers.

The six NBA conference finals games were all among the week’s top 10 prime-time programs, led by the Boston Celtics’ 100-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday; the contest averaged 9.875 million viewers, the most for an NBA conference finals game on ESPN in four years.

That seven-game series averaged 6.978 million viewers, with five of the games on ESPN and two on ABC. Viewership increased 40% from a 5-million average last season.

TNT’s coverage of the Golden State Warriors’ five-game victory over the Dallas Mavericks averaged 6.7 million viewers, the network’s most for an NBA conference finals series since 2018. Viewership was up 23% from the 5.5-million average for the ESPN-ABC coverage of the Phoenix Suns’ six-game victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last year.

CBS had 11 of the 16 top ranked programs among the broadcast networks, including its 12 minutes of coverage of President Biden’s speech May 24 in response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. CBS finished first for the 14th time in the 14 weeks since NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 20th time in the 36-week 2021-22 television season, averaging 3.94 million viewers.

ESPN was second, averaging 3.398 million, followed by ABC, which averaged 2.9 million, and NBC, which averaged 2.86 million. CBS, ESPN, ABC and NBC all aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.


ABC’s ratings leader was Boston’s 102-82 victory over Miami in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which averaged 6.41 million viewers, eighth for the week.

Fox averaged 2.28 million viewers for its 16 hours, 44 minutes of prime-time programming, topped by the premiere of the latest incarnation of the musical game show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!,” which averaged 2.082 million viewers, 48th among prime-time broadcast programs. (A previous version aired on Fox from 2007-09.)

The CW averaged 360,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its biggest draw was the fourth-season finale of the high school football drama “All American,” which averaged 669,000 viewers, 150th among broadcast programs.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of 10 shows that aired on CBS — seven scripted series episodes, the alternative series “Survivor,” an episode of “60 Minutes” with three previously broadcast segments updated for a post-season edition and coverage of Biden’s speech; six NBA conference finals games — three on TNT, two on ESPN and one on ABC; the three elements of NBC’s “Chicago” franchise — “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.”; and the series finale of the NBC family drama “This Is Us.”

Two NBA Eastern Conference finals games helped ESPN win the cable network race, averaging 3.398 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second for the third time in four weeks, averaging 2.171 million viewers.

TNT finished third after four first-place finishes in five weeks, averaging 2.136 million viewers, the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming.


The cable top 20 consisted of 11 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” four of “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle”; five NBA conference finals games — three on ESPN and two on TNT; three “NBA Courtside” pregame shows on ESPN; and the May 24 edition of the CNN news program “Anderson Cooper 360,” the day of the Uvalde shooting.

The fourth season of the science-fiction horror drama “Stranger Things” was Netflix’s most-streamed program, with viewers spending 286.79 million hours watching the seven episodes released Friday, according to figures from the streaming service.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” dropped one spot to second, with viewers spending 64.82 million hours watching the 10-episode legal drama in its second full week of release, 40% fewer than the 108.09 million hours the previous week.

“A Perfect Pairing” was Netflix’s most popular movie, with viewers spending 32.63 million hours watching the romantic comedy in its first full week of release, nearly identical to the 33 million hours watched the previous week when it was available for four days and finished second.

The top ranked movie the previous two weeks, “Senior Year,” was second with 24.56 million hours.