June 21, 2012 3:51pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Jimmy Kimmel Rides NBA Coverage, 'Game Night' Specials to Big Ratings Gains
Jimmy Kimmel Live! is having a good summer. Thanks to ABC's coverage of the NBA Finals, the network's lone late-night talker has seen a ratings surge and increased airtime with a series of primetime specials.
Nielsen numbers for the most recent Monday-Friday (June 11-15) give ABC a 20 percent jump, week to week, giving Kimmel his biggest summertime audience to date. The series averaged 1.999 million viewers -- 934,000 of which fell into the adults 18-49 demographic, marking a 46 percent jump from the previous week.
It's the best audience since 2008 and the best demo showing since 2007. And with Nightline, ABC averaged a dominant 2.592 million viewers, with 1.116 million of them adults 18-49, for the week.
Still, there are a few notable asterisks to Kimmel's triumph.
Both NBC and CBS only had four nights in play last week, with the Stanley Cup final excluding NBC's Monday numbers and Friday's episode of CBS' Late Show With David Letterman being a repeat. For their abbreviated runs, NBC averaged a second place with 2.158 million (665,000 in the demo) followed by CBS with 1.981 million viewers (644,000 in the demo).
Kimmel's average also saw a significant dip on nights without a NBA lead. His demo rating on non-basketball nights (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) dropped by 50 percent and his viewership was down to 1.7 million from 2.4 million -- though two of those broadcasts were encores.
As in year's previous, ABC's Kimmel approach to the NBA finals has been two-pronged. Just prior to pre-game coverage, the network has been running half-hour installments of Jimmy Kimmel Live: Game Night to relative success, besting season averages for late-night and improving on showings from previous NBC finals. Going into Game 5, they're averaging a robust 3.5 million viewers.