Destination: Ratings for TNT, NBA

The National Basketball Association playoffs continue to drive strong ratings for Turner Network Television, which now has claimed a share of the household-ratings crown for a third consecutive week.

From May 17-24, TNT averaged a 2.7 household mark, fueled by a trio of hoops postseason games that held the top three positions for the period, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Nickelodeon -- which has seen its ratings separated from channel-space sharer Nick at Nite -- ranked second with a 2.1.

ESPN, also benefiting from playoff hoops, was third with a 1.9, ahead of USA Network’s 1.8. NAN was fifth with a 1.7.

Beginning March 29, Nielsen began measuring Nick and the retro-sitcom service distinctly. The kids’ kingpin’s primetime now comprises nine hours, while NAN’s totals one-dozen. Those compare to the standard 21-hour measurements for other services.

Rounding out the top 10 in primetime were Disney Channel at a 1.6; Cartoon Network with a 1.5; and Lifetime Television, FX and Fox News Channel, all with a 1.2.

Gauged on a total-day basis, Nick scored a 1.8, ahead of TNT’s 1.3 and NAN’s 1.2. Cartoon and Disney were tied for fourth with a 1.1 household-ratings average.

Game two of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves May 23 posted up a week’s best 6.4 rating. The first game of the series was second with a 5.6 May 21. The decisive seventh game between the Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings two nights earlier was third at a 5.4.

For its part, ESPN also scored well with NBA playoff contests: The New Jersey Nets- Detroit Pistons contest (game seven of the Eastern Conference semifinals) registered a 3.2 May 20, while the Pistons-Indiana Pacers contest (the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals) May 22 and game six of the Pacers-Miami Heat confrontation May 18 both garnered 3.1 ratings.