ABC used three games of the NBA Finals to slam-dunk its rivals in last week's ratings race, helping send CBS and Fox -- which have struggled early this summer -- to historically low numbers.
Fox has garnered modest ratings for original drama "Gang-Related," and has already pulled alternative skeins "Riot" and "I Wanna Marry Harry" after they drew puny numbers during their short Tuesday runs.
NBC, meanwhile, has done pretty well with its mix of newcomers like drama "The Night Shift" and vets like "America's Got Talent," and also got a boost last week from the concluding game of hockey's Stanley Cup Final.
Overall, according to Nielsen estimates for the week of June 9-15, ABC led in adults 18-49 with a 2.6 rating/9 share, its highest average since the same frame a year ago. It doubled up second-place NBC (1.3/5), which was followed by Univision (1.2/4), Fox (0.9/3) and CBS (0.8/3). These match the lowest-ever weekly demo ratings for Fox and CBS.
ABC also won with ease in adults 25-54 (2.9/9) and total viewers (7.8 million).
The NBA Finals, won in five games by the San Antonio Spurs over the Miami Heat, averaged 15.52 million viewers on ABC. This is up about 5% from the first five games of last year's Finals (between the same teams) but 8% lower than that series' overall average for its six games (16.86 million).
Last week's NBA Finals games claimed the top three spots on the adults 18-49 leaderboard, with the best numbers coming from Sunday's closer (6.8/22 in 18-49, 18.00 million viewers overall).
Also of note for ABC last week was the ABC News special "Hillary Clinton: Public and Private" (1.1/3 in 18-49, 6.46 million viewers overall), which didn't do much demo-wise but stood as Monday's most-watched program overall.
NBC's best night this summer remains Tuesday, where "The Night Shift" (1.5/4 in 18-49, 6.70 million viewers overall) has impressed behind "America's Got Talent" (2.6/9 in 18-49, 11.54 million viewers overall), the top broadcast series of the week. Even though "Talent" was lower week-to-week in 18-49 and it faced the NBA Finals, "Night Shift" was able to match its week-earlier demo score and come within a tenth of its series premiere on May 27.
The net had other highlights sprinkled throughout the week, starting with "American Ninja Warrior" (1.7/5 in 18-49, 4.93 million viewers overall), which was Monday's top Big Four telecast in 18-49; Wednesday's "Dateline" special "The People vs. O.J. Simpson," the night's top broadcast (1.4/5 in 18-49, 6.28 million viewers overall); and Friday's fifth and deciding game of the Stanley Cup, which dominated the night in demos (2.3/10 in 18-49, 6.02 million viewers overall).
Fox was led by Monday's "MasterChef" (1.6/5 in 18-49, 4.82 million viewers overall) and "24: Live Another Day" (1.6/5 in 18-49, 6.28 million viewers overall) and Thursday's "Hell's Kitchen" (1.6/6 in 18-49, 4.88 million viewers overall). "Gang-Related" (0.8/3 in 18-49, 2.70 million viewers overall) held steady on Thursday.
CW is generating good numbers on Monday for "Whose Line Is It Anyway" (0.6/2 in 18-49, 1.88 million viewers overall), but new Tuesday alternative series "Famous in 12" remains low (0.3/1 in 18-49, 0.63 million viewers overall) -- though this was actually an improvement over its premiere.
HBO's fourth-season finale of "Game of Thrones" was the week's top series in adults 18-49 (3.8 rating/10 share), and its overall average audience (7.06 million) rose 30% above last year's closer.
Elsewhere in cable, VH1′s "Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta" remained strong (1.8/6 in 18-49, 3.48m), tying with the return of A&E's "Duck Dynasty" ( 1.8/5 in 18-49, 4.60m) as cable's top entertainment series of the week in 18-49.
"Duck" continued its ratings declines -- down 45% in 18-49 from its fifth-season opener in January of this year (3.3), and 28% lower than where it ended with its fifth season in March (2.5).
Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" (1.1/3 in 18-49, 3.07 million viewers overall) was above the 3-million viewer mark for a second straight week, standing as cable's No. 1 Tuesday show in 18-49 (tied with "Pretty Little Liars"), men 18-49 (1.4/5), men 25-54 (2.1/7) and total viewers.
At TNT, "Major Crimes" looked good as it returned (0.9/3 in 18-49, 5.16m), ruling as the week's No. 1 scripted original on basic cable in adults 25-54 (1.3/4) and No. 1 among all cable programs in total viewers. It was followed by the premiere of "Murder in the First" (0.6/2in 18-49, 3.76m), which did decently demo-wise while becoming cable's biggest 2014 premiere in total viewers.
FX's "Fargo" picked up some steam, averaging a 0.64 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.902 million viewers overall -- its second straight week of total-viewer gains and the show's largest audience since its second episode, on April 22.