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NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast and ABC’s coverage of the NBA Finals went head to head Sunday, and neither one came out looking great — at least relative to their own past numbers. The two sports telecasts, however, were at the top of the rankings for the night.
Sunday Night Football‘s 15.08 million viewers were identical to the previous week, but down about 17 percent from the same week last year. In the same week of the NFL season last year (which came a week earlier on the calendar), the only live sports telecast opposite SNF was a Major League Baseball division series game on TBS, which drew 3.34 million people.
Sunday, NBC had both the NBA Finals — which drew 8.29 million viewers on ABC — and the opening game of baseball’s American League Championship Series (2.07 million viewers) on TBS. The combined audience of 25.44 million for the three is about 4 million more than were watching primetime sports a year ago.
As for the NBA, the six-game series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat averaged 7.45 million viewers, down 51 percent from a year ago (with a high of 8.89 million viewers for Friday’s fifth game). That’s in keeping with losses for the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals (-61 percent), golf’s U.S. Open (-42 percent) and the Kentucky Derby (-43 percent), all of which were delayed several months due to the pandemic. Baseball’s division series playoff round was off by more than 30 percent.
Elsewhere Sunday, CBS’ 60 Minutes got a sizable boost from an NFL lead-in to score season highs in both viewers (12.04 million) and adults 18-49 (1.7 rating). Fear the Walking Dead opened its sixth season on AMC with 1.59 million viewers — its biggest same-day audience since the midpoint of season five in July 2019 — and a 0.4 in the 18-49 demographic, even with last season’s finale.
A day earlier, Saturday Night Live scored 6.9 million viewers and a 1.4 demo rating for NBC, up from 5.88 million and 1.2 for 2019’s second episode. Primetime college football audiences on ABC (4.61 million) and ESPN (4.89 million) were also on the high side for the season so far, as were afternoon games on CBS (5.77 million) and Fox (4.81 million).
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.
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