NBA finals fuel fifth weekly win for TNT

Cable network sweeps demos

Fueled by the NBA's Western Conference finals, TNT nailed down its fifth consecutive weekly demo sweep, topping ESPN for supremacy among the core viewing groups.

For the week ending Sunday, the Turner network averaged 1.6 million viewers in the adults 18-49 demographic, 1.5 million adults 25-54 and 840,000 viewers 18-34, according to Nielsen.

Game 3 of the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns series drew 8.5 million total viewers to TNT, down 6% from last year's analogue, an Orlando Magic-Cleveland Cavalierss Eastern Conference finals contest that drew 9 million viewers May 24, 2009. The game in Phoenix attracted 4.7 million viewers in 18-49 and 4.5 million in 25-54.

As with total viewers, TNT's Game 3 demos dipped 6% from its year-ago deliveries.

Game 1 of the Lakers-Suns showdown served up 7.1 million viewers May 17, down 3% from the opener of the Magic-Cavs series. Among those tuning in were 3.95 million viewers in 18-49 and 3.7 million in 25-54. The second game of the best-of-seven series delivered 7 million viewers, of which 3.9 million were in the 18-49 demo set and 3.7 million were in 25-54.

TNT took second in primetime last week among total viewers, as USA Network edged it by a margin of 67,000 (2.91 million vs. 2.84 million).

ESPN also put up big numbers with its NBA playoff coverage, as Game 2 of the Boston Celtics-Magic series drew 7.2 million viewers May 18. (Broadcast by ABC, Game 1 of the Celtics-Magic set drew 7 million viewers Sunday afternoon.) Deliveries for the Celtics' 95-92 victory were down 9% from the 7.9 million viewers ESPN drew with Game 2 of the Lakers-Nuggets Western Conference finals last year.

ESPN also drew 4.2 million viewers 18-49 and 3.8 million adults 25-54.

For the week, ESPN finished second in the core demos, averaging 1.3 million viewers in 18-49, 1.3 million adults 25-54 and 676,000 viewers 18-34. The sports network took third among total primetime viewers, drawing 2.6 million.

USA Network took the bronze with its delivery of adults 25-54 (748,000) and viewers 18-49 (1.03 million). The NBC Universal property notched its biggest delivery of the week with "WWE Raw," which scared up 4.9 million viewers May 17 from 9-11:05 p.m.

Closing out the top five, Fox News Channel averaged 1.9 million viewers, and Nick at Nite served up 1.7 million.