ESPN Tops Weekly Ratings Race

ESPN hit a ratings slam dunk during the first week of the summer ratings period, riding its NBA playoffs coverage to a weekly ratings win.

ESPN drew 3.2 million viewers for the week of May 26 to June 1 to top all basic cable networks, according to Nielsen. TNT’s coverage of the NBA’s Western Conference finals pushed the drama.boom network to a second place finish with 2.9 million viewers, while History finished third with 2.3 million watchers.

NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) skated to a fourth place finish with its coverage of the NHL playoffs, while last year’s summer ratings champion USA Network finished fifth with 1.7 million viewers. Disney Channel (1.6 million viewers); TBS (1.5 million), Fox News (1.3 million); HGTV (1.3 million) and A&E Network rounded out the top 10.

Nickelodeon was tops on a total day basis, averaging 1.6 million viewers, followed by Disney Channel (1.3 million) and TNT (1.2 million).

NBA and NHL playoff games represented the majority of the top 10 most watched shows of the week, according to Nielsen. A June 1 episode of HBO’s Game Of Thrones finished in third place, while a May 29 episode of History’s Pawn Stars secured the 9th spot on the list.

Top 10 Most-Watched Programs For The Week of May 26 to June 1

DateShow NetworkTotal Viewers

5/31       NBA Playoffs: San Antonio-Oklahoma City            TNT                                        8.1 million

5/28       NBA Playoffs: Miami-Indiana                                      ESPN                                     7.3 million

6/1         Game Of Thrones                                                            HBO                                       7.1 million

5/26       NBA Playoffs: Indiana-Miami                                      ESPN                                     7.0 million

5/29       NBA Playoffs: Oklahoma City-San Antonio            TNT                                        6.9 million

5/30       NBA Playoffs: Indiana-Miami                                      ESPN                                     6.8 million

5/27       NBA Playoffs: San Antonio-Oklahoma City            TNT                                        6.4 million

6/1         NHL Playoffs: Los Angeles/Chicago                          NBCSN                                  4.1 million

5/29       Pawn Stars                                                                          History                                  4.1 million

5/30       SportsCenter                                                                     ESPN                                     3.8 million

Source: Nielsen

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.