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ABC wrests demo title from Fox thanks to NBA

ABC topped the ratings last week and finally broke Fox's epic 22-week winning streak.

Although Fox's summer reality slate continues to pull in strong numbers, last week they were no match for an action-packed basketball playoff series.

Fox seized control of the coveted adults 18-49 demographic in January as it launched the seventh season of "American Idol." Broadcast competitors — their biggest hits sidelined by the writers strike — were no match for Fox as the network used "Idol" to funnel viewers into such other reality hits as "The Moment of Truth" and "Hell's Kitchen."

But ABC's NBA Finals put the network over the top — winning Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday night with the Lakers-Celtics games.

On average, the NBA Finals are outdelivering last year's series by 57% in total viewers and 62% in the demo, making it the highest-rated NBA championship since 2004. The biggest game so far was Sunday night (17.4 million viewers and 7.3 rating/21 share in adults 18-49), when the Lakers edged the Celtics, 103-98.

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel also is benefiting from the exposure. His primetime pregame specials (Sunday: 2.9 million, 1.1/4) have earned 68% higher ratings than his regular late-night show.

Driven by comedy repeats, CBS still led in total viewers for the third straight summer week yet was fourth in the 18-49 demo.

The network's new Thursday night drama "Swingtown" (7 million, 2.3/7) dropped slightly in its second episode but placed second in the hour.

On Sunday night, the 62nd annual Tony Awards (6.3 million, 1.1/3) hit a record low. CBS also tried out "Million Dollar Password" (9.4 million, 2.0/7) at 8 p.m. Thursday and won the hour.

Fox was second in the demo. Up against the NBA Finals, its reality hit "Hell's Kitchen" (8.8 million, 4.2/12) — the previous week's chart leader — only lost a couple tenths. Wednesday night's "So You Think You Can Dance" (8.9 million, 3.4/11) also slipped.

NBC ranked third, with the premiere of the reality series "Celebrity Circus" (6.5 million, 2.3/7) placing second on Wednesday night. The premiere of "Nashville Star" (6.7 million, 2.2/6) was the highest-rated ever for the former USA Network series.

For the week ending June 15, ABC averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 2.5 rating/8 share, followed by Fox (6 million, 2.2/7), NBC (6.8 million, 2.0/7) and the CW (1.7 million, 0.6/2). (partialdiff)