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ABC wins ratings week as NBA Finals end, Stanley Cup Finals begin

Two basketball players on the court.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Boston.
(Steven Senne / Associated Press)
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ABC’s coverage of the last two games of the NBA Finals drew the league’s largest audiences since 2019, but the series averaged its smallest audience when held in June since 2007.

The Golden State Warriors’ six-game victory over the Boston Celtics averaged 12.318 million viewers, the least for the NBA Finals during its customary time since 2007, when the San Antonio Spurs’ four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 9.29 million, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen.

Viewership was up 24.5% from its average 9.891 million viewers for the Milwaukee Bucks’ six-game victory over the Phoenix Suns in 2021, which was played July 6-20, but down 18.6% from the average 15.129 million viewers for the Toronto Raptors’ six-game victory over Golden State in the 2019 Finals, which were played in the traditional month of June.

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Viewership for nearly all programming is down compared to the past, mainly because of increased viewing of streaming programming, including programming originally airing on traditional television.

ABC has carried the NBA Finals since 2003.

The Warriors’ title-clinching 103-90 victory Thursday averaged 13.993 million viewers, the most for a prime-time program between June 13 and Sunday and the most for an NBA game since Toronto’s series-clinching 114-110 victory June 13, 2019, which averaged 18.763 million viewers. Golden State’s 104-94 victory in Game 5 was second for the week, averaging 13.016 million.

The week’s top-rated nonsports program was NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which averaged 6.207 million viewers, third for the week. The only other program to average more than 5 million viewers was the 7 p.m. edition of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which averaged 5.583 for three previously broadcast segments that were updated.

The NBA Finals put ABC at the top of the network race for the third consecutive week, averaging 4.96 million viewers. Outside of its two NBA Finals games, its biggest audience was for Game 1 of hockey’s Stanley Cup Final, which averaged 4.2 million viewers, sixth for the week and first among Wednesday’s programming.

Fox averaged 1.49 million viewers for its prime-time programming. “MasterChef” was its top-ranked program for the third consecutive week, averaging 2.36 million viewers to finish 52nd.

The CW averaged 410,000 viewers. Its biggest draw for the third consecutive week was the crime drama “Walker,” which averaged 879,000 viewers, 112th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of two NBA Finals games and two NBA Finals pregame shows on ABC; two Stanley Cup Final games and one pregame show on ABC; reruns of six CBS scripted programs; the rerun of CBS’ “The Price Is Right 50th Anniversary Special”; two editions of the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes”; NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; a rerun of ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos”; and two broadcasts of the Fox News Channel political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

All of the top five prime-time cable programs were editions of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” led by the Tuesday edition, which averaged 3.268 million viewers, 16th for the week.

Fox News Channel won the prime-time cable network battle for the third consecutive week, averaging 2.153 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 1.374 million, and HGTV third, averaging 927,000.

The cable top 20 consisted of 14 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and four of “The Ingraham Angle”; four 60-minute segments of MSNBC’s coverage of the House Select Committee hearing; and two editions of the MSNBC news and opinion program “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

The 7:45 a.m.-9:51 a.m. PDT segment on June 13 led the ratings for daytime coverage of the week’s House Select Committee hearings on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, averaging 2.972 million viewers. That made it the week’s ninth-most watched cable program behind four editions each of Fox News Channel’s afternoon talk show, “The Five” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” was Netflix’s most-streamed program for the fourth time in the four weeks it has been available, with viewers spending 102.26 million hours watching its seven episodes in their third full week of release, 35.8% less than the 159.24 million hours watched the previous week, according to figures released by the streaming service.

The season was watched for 883.3 million hours in its 24 days of release through Sunday, extending its viewing record for an English-language television series on Netflix in its first 28 days of release. The previous record was 656.26 million hours for the second season of the steamy period drama “Bridgerton.”

“Hustle” was Netflix’s top movie for the second consecutive week, with viewers spending 57.19 million hours watching the Adam Sandler-starring basketball drama in its first full week of release, 32.4% less than the 84.58 million hours the previous week, when it was available for five days.

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