TV Ratings: ‘Succession’ finale grabs the series’ biggest audience ever; NBA playoffs win the week

A group of people posing for a photo in a boardroom
Alexander Skarsgård, center, and Matthew Macfadyen to his right in the HBO drama “Succession.”
(David M. Russell / HBO)

Sunday’s series finale of “Succession” garnered a series-high 2.9 million viewers across Max and linear telecasts, topping the previous high for the series, 2.75 million for the April 30 episode, according to a statement from the streaming service’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.

The live-plus-same-day viewership for the 9 p.m. HBO broadcast of the 88-minute fourth-season episode was 896,000, while the total gross viewership, which includes encore broadcasts, was about 962,000, according to Nielsen.

There were 20 prime-time entertainment programs on the five major English-language broadcast networks between May 22 and Sunday to average more than 2.9 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.


The top two prime-time programs and three of the top four in the latest prime-time weekly ratings were cable telecasts of NBA conference finals games. TNT’s coverage of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference was the week’s top-ranked prime-time program, with the Boston Celtics’ buzzer-beating 104-103 victory over the Miami Heat Saturday averaging 8.711 million viewers, the most for a Game 6 of an Eastern Conference finals on TNT and the most on any network in 11 years.

NBA playoff coverage made TNT the top-ranked cable network for the sixth consecutive week, averaging 3.117 million viewers. ESPN’s coverage of Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference finals helped it to its fifth consecutive second-place finish, averaging 1.776 million viewers.

The Denver Nuggets’ May 22 series-clinching 113-111 victory over the Lakers averaged 8.211 million viewers, second for the week and the most for a Game 4 of a conference finals series on ESPN since 2015. Miami’s Game 7 victory Monday averaged 11.9 million viewers, the most for an Eastern Conference finals game on TNT and third-highest for any NBA game on TNT.

The highest-rated non-sports program was the 20th season finale of the CBS action drama “NCIS,” which averaged 6.728 million viewers, third for the week. CBS won the network battle for the 11th consecutive week.

NBC was second among broadcast networks after six consecutive third-place finishes, averaging 3.55 million viewers. Its ratings were led by the season finale of the singing competition “The Voice,” eighth for the week and fourth among non-sports programs, averaging 6.215 million viewers.

ABC dropped to third among broadcast networks and fourth overall after six consecutive second-place finishes, averaging 2.47 million viewers. The finale of “Jeopardy! Masters” was its highest-ranked program, averaging 6.468 million viewers, sixth for the week and third among non-sports programs.


Fox averaged 1.21 million viewers, led by professional wrestling’s “WWE Friday Night SmackDown,” 40th for the week averaging 2.159 million viewers.

The CW averaged 300,000 viewers. Its biggest draw was the superhero series “Superman & Lois,” which averaged 599,000 viewers, 135th among broadcast programs, one spot below the rerun of the 1965-71 CBS rural comedy “Green Acres,” which aired at 9:30 p.m. May 25 on MeTV and averaged 609,000.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of four NBA playoff games — three on TNT and one on ESPN; seven CBS scripted programs and an edition of its newsmagazine “60 Minutes” with three previously broadcast segments that were updated for the post-season edition; three episodes of “Jeopardy! Masters” on ABC; the season’s final two episodes of the NBC singing competition “The Voice”; and the season finales of the three elements of NBC’s Chicago franchise, “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.”

Fox News Channel was third among cable networks for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 1.33 million viewers, and first in prime time among cable news networks for the 119th consecutive week.

MSNBC was fourth among cable networks for the sixth consecutive week following third- and second-place finishes, averaging 1.136 million viewers, 3.1% less than its 1.127-million average the previous week. CNN was 17th among cable networks, averaging 412,000 viewers.

The cable prime-time top 20 consisted of four NBA playoff games — three on TNT and one on ESPN; three NBA pregame or postgame shows — two on TNT and one on ESPN; five Fox News Channel weeknight political talk shows — three broadcasts of “Hannity” and two of “Fox News Tonight,” hosted by Trey Gowdy; three MSNBC political talk shows — “The Rachel Maddow Show” and the Wednesday and Thursday editions of “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell”; Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules”; TNT’s coverage of Game 4 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals; History’s “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch”; and the first segment of USA Network’s “WWE Raw.”

Netflix’s most streamed title was the Arnold Schwarzenegger-starring action comedy “FUBAR,” whose eight episodes were watched for 88.94 million hours in their first four days of release.

Netflix’s most popular movie for the third consecutive week was the Jennifer Lopez-starring action thriller “The Mother” with 34.69 million viewing hours, despite a 63.3% decrease in viewership from the 94.42 million hours the previous week, the first full week it was available.