Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals on ABC were last week’s most-watched prime-time television programs, though viewership was sharply lower than in 2018.
The Toronto Raptors’ 123-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 on June 5 was the most-watched prime-time program between June 3 and Sunday, averaging 13.348 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released Tuesday by Nielsen.
Toronto’s 105-92 victory in Game 4 on Friday was second for the week, averaging 12.794 million. The only other prime-time program to average more than 8 million viewers last week was NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” third for the week, averaging 9.819 million.
Viewership was 25.6% and 21.2% lower for Games 3 and 4 than in 2018. The 2019 series averaged 13.353 million viewers through the first four games, the lowest four-game average since 2007 when the San Antonio Spurs’ four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged 9.29 million viewers — the least-watched finals on record. Individual viewership figures have been kept since 1987.
The 2019 four-game average is 23.7% below the 17.502-million average for Golden State’s four-game sweep of Cleveland in 2018.
One factor for the drop is the presence of a Canadian team in the finals for the first time, meaning there is not a second local U.S. market with huge viewership, boosting the national figure.
Meanwhile, viewership for the Tony Awards sank to a record low 5.404 million viewers. The previous low was 6.01 million in 2012. CBS has aired the Tony Awards each year since 1978.
Many forms of programming have set record lows in recent years because of increased competition from streaming programs.
The Tony Awards were 12th for the week and seventh among entertainment programs. The 2018 ceremony averaged 6.313 million viewers and was eighth for the week and fourth among entertainment programs.
In the Eastern and Central time zones where the bulk of the nation’s population lives, the Tony Awards ran opposite NBC’s coverage of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, which averaged 6.469 million viewers, fifth for the week.
Throughout the nation, the Tony Awards ran opposite the season premiere of the HBO drama “Big Little Lies” and the season finale of the Showtime drama “Billions.” Viewership figures for those programs were not immediately available.
ABC was the most-watched network for the second consecutive week, averaging 5.35 million viewers, its first back-to-back victories since the 2018 finals. NBC was second, averaging 4.76 million, and CBS third, averaging 4.25 million.
ABC and CBS both aired 22 hours of programming for ratings purposes; NBC 21 hours, 44 minutes.
Fox finished fourth among the major broadcast networks for the 21st consecutive week, averaging 2.05 million viewers for its 15 hours, 46 minutes of prime-time programming. Its most-watched program was the conclusion of the two-part “MasterChef Junior” season finale which averaged 3.268 million viewers, putting it 41st among the week’s broadcast and cable programs.
Fox also trailed corporate sibling Fox News Channel, which averaged 2.277 million viewers to be the most-watched cable network for the second consecutive week.
The Fox News Channel political talk show “Hannity” accounted each of the week’s four most-watched cable programs, topped by the June 3 episode, which averaged 3.232 million, 42nd overall.
The order of finish among the three top cable networks was unchanged from a week earlier. MSNBC was second, averaging 1.537 million viewers. HGTV was third, averaging 1.267 million.
The most-watched Spanish-language prime-time program was the Tuesday episode of the Telemundo telenovela “La Reina del Sur,” which averaged 2.021 million viewers to finish 82nd among the week’s broadcast and cable programs.
Telemundo averaged 1.14 million viewers to be the most-watched Spanish-language network after three consecutive second-place finishes behind Univision, which was second for the week, averaging 1.1 million.
UniMas was third, averaging 480,000, followed by Estrella TV (210,000) and Azteca America (50,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 28th consecutive week and 79th time in the past 80 weeks, averaging 7.827 million viewers.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.916 million viewers. The “CBS Evening News” averaged 5.312 million viewers. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s coverage of Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals; NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; NBC’s coverage of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final; CBS’ “NCIS”; the Sunday and Thursday episodes of ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud” and ABC’s “The Bachelorette”; and NBC’s coverage of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
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