Weekly Cable Ratings: Playoffs-Powered TNT Continues Primetime Ratings Win Streak

Lakers vs. Nuggets in NBA Western Conference Final May 18, 2023
NBA playoff action, like the Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference Finals, powered both ESPN and TNT. (Image credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

TNT and ESPN’s NBA and NHL playoffs coverage kept both networks at the top of the primetime charts last week.

TNT averaged 2.9 million viewers for the week of May 15 to May 21 to top all cable networks for the fifth straight week, with ESPN finishing second with 2.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen figures supplied by Fox News Channel. 

Both networks were bolstered by strong viewership performances from NBA Playoffs telecasts. ESPN drew 7.1 million viewers for its May 16 Game 1 coverage of the LA. Lakers-Denver Nuggets Western Conference Finals series, while TNT drew 6.4 million for its May 21 Game 3 coverage of the Boston Celtics-Miami Heat Eastern Conference finals series. 

Fox News finished third for the week with 1.4 million viewers, followed by MSNBC with 1.1 million viewers and INSP with 770,000 watchers. Rounding out the top 10 most watched cable networks was HGTV (701,000). History (660,000 viewers), TLC (631,000), Hallmark Channel (593,000) and Discovery Channel (570,000).

Fox News was the most-watched cable network on a total day basis, averaging 1 million viewers. ESPN was second on the chart with 829,000 viewers, followed by MSNBC (715,000), TNT (665,000) and HGTV (403,000), according to 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.