ABC may have hoped for the Oklahoma City Thunder to push the NBA Finals to a sixth or even seventh game, but they can’t complain about the numbers that the five actual games earned them. The five games were up more than 11 percent over the first five games of last year’s Finals, and were the highest-rated opening five games of an NBA Finals since 2004.
And just as the Miami Heat blew out the Thunder in the fifth and final game, ABC’s coverage of that game led to an incredibly easy win in the Thursday ratings.
For the three hours of primetime, ABC averaged a 5.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.9 million viewers overall. No one else was close. CBS got a 1.4 demo rating and 7 million viewers with repeats, Fox’s dating shows combined for a 1.3 and 3.7 million viewers, NBC’s line-up (including night two of its Justin Bieber special) tanked with a 0.7 rating and 3.2 million viewers, while the CW continued to struggle with its summer lineup, averaging a 0.3 and 770,000 viewers.
8 p.m. — The night’s only competitive hour had ABC comfortably in the lead in the demo with its combination of Jimmy Kimmel in primetime and its NBA pregame show (3.0, 7.7 million viewers), though repeats of “Big Bang Theory” and “2 Broke Girls” averaged a slightly larger overall audience (2.1, 7.8 million). FOX’s “Take Me Out” was a distant third (1.2, 3.1 million), followed by the conclusion of NBC’s “Justin Bieber: All Around the World” (0.8, 3.1 million) and the CW’s “Breaking Pointe” (0.3, 908,000).
9 p.m. — Heat-Thunder tipped off, and all network competition was over. The first hour of the game averaged a 6.1 demo rating and 14.8 million viewers. FOX’s “The Choice” (1.5, 4.2 million) narrowly edged a “Person of Interest” repeat on CBS (1.4, 7 million) in the demo but was well behind it in viewers. NBC’s “Saving Hope” continued to struggle (0.5, 2.6 million), and there was minimal interest in a “Vampire Diaries” repeat on the CW (0.2, 632,000).
10 p.m. — Heat-Thunder averaged a 6.7 demo rating and 16.2 million viewers in its second hour, trailed way in the distance by a “Mentalist” repeat on CBS (1.1, 6.2 million) and NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams” (0.8, 3.8 million).
All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change.