Hoops and hockey dominated viewership in broadcast primetime on Sunday night, with the three-hour NBA Finals on ABC averaging 12.4 million viewers and a 5.0 18-49 rating, and the three-hour NHL Stanley Cup Finals on NBC averaging 5.9 million viewers and a 2.3 18-49 rating.
The two sports events finished first and second, respectively, in the 18-49 demo.
Fox, with a night of all repeat comedies, including its two-hour animation block, finished third among viewers 18-49, with a 1.4 rating, while CBS, which opened the night with news magazine "60 Minutes" and then aired three repeat dramas, finished second among viewers, averaging 6.5 million, but fourth in the 18-49 demo with a 1.1 rating.
The numbers are based on Nielsen fast nationals, so the ratings for both the basketball and hockey telecasts are expected to go up when the final nationals are released later Monday. That's because fast nationals are time-period based and not program-specific and some Pacific viewing for a portion of the telecast is not included in the early numbers.
Still, based on the early numbers the ABC telecast in which the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to tie the finals series at one game each had a higher 18-49 rating than last year's comparable playoff telecast when the Orlando Magic played the Lakers.
The NBC game in which the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers to take a 3 game to 2 lead in the Cup finals, posted 18-49 ratings that were 44 percent higher than last year's comparable telecast of Game 5, when the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Detroit Red Wings. Although last year's game was televised on Saturday, a lower viewing night for television in general.
The first three Stanley Cup finals games on NBC (cable network Versus first televised Games 2 and 3) averaged the highest number of viewers for hockey for those comparable games since 1997, when the Cup finals aired on Fox.
Fox was barely on the mapwith repeats of its scripted sitcoms, "Til Death" and "Sons of Tucson," with each recorded 0.7 18-49 ratings, but the night was rehabbed a bit by its animation comedy block of "The Simpson's" (1.6 18-49 rating), "The Cleveland Show" (1.6), "Family Guy" (2.0) and "American Dad" (1.9).
CBS' "60 Minutes" was that network's highest-rated 18-49 show of the night, averaging a 1.4. It's three repeat dramas, "Medium," "The Good Wife" and "Cold Case," averaged a combined and paltry 0.8 in the 18-49 demo.