It was another big night for the NBA and in this case ESPN as the scene shifted back to the Eastern Conference Finals. A mammoth 4.8 rating with Adults 18-49 (and 11.1 million viewers 2+) watched LeBron James carry the Miami Heat on his back to tie the series 3-3, forcing a Game 7 Saturday night back home in Miami against Boston at 8:30 ET (also on ESPN). NBC Sports must be crestfallen. Now NHL Stanley Cup Game 5 (a possible elimination game) has to face a Game 7 of a thriving sport, and the NHL (a tough sell to anyone who lives more than a short drive from the Canadian border) lost its terrific lead-in Saturday. NBC was looking at a huge late afternoon with the Belmont Stakes and a possible Triple Crown coronation, the first in 34 years. But with the really sad career-ending injury for I’ll Have Another in practice today, any chance of a Triple Crown vanished and the ratings prospects for the Belmont just crashed. From water cooler event that demanded to be seen live to an irrelevant race in a dying sport.
The official ratings for the broadcast networks last night night are not much different than the fast nationals. Only the Big Bang Theory repeat was adjusted up (from a 2.1 to a 2.2 in the official nationals), still the highest-rated show on the broadcast networks and the only one above a 2.0. The extra tenth of a rating point in the 8:00 pm half hour was enough to push the CBS average for the night to a 1.6 and sole possession of first place versus new product on the other networks.
FOX’s The Choice stayed at a 1.8 rating, the second-highest rated show on broadcast TV Thursday night but not exactly a promising start for the dating reality show that tweaked NBC’s The Voice by including spinning chairs on the set. An hour before, George Lopez bombed with Take Me Out, another dating show that premiered to a weak 1.3 rating (the same as the struggling Touch received for its two-hour finale). For the night, FOX finished in second place with a 1.5 rating.
ABC’s Duets held at a 1.2 rating in the official nationals, making its three-week track an ugly 1.7–1.5–1.2. Rookie Blue has been more consistent (1.4–1.4–1.3), despite the falling lead-in. For the night, ABC finished in third with a 1.2 rating from 8-11 pm.
There was no rounding up in the official nationals for NBC to save the day. Still in fourth place among the broadcasters on Thursday with a 0.7 rating. The Office and Parks & Recreation delivered a 0.6 repeat rating each (not to worry, original episodes in the fall will bounce up to maybe hit the ratings of repeat CBS comedies). New summer drama Saving Hope (which looked like it was shot on videotape by students in a TV class) whiffed in its premiere with a 0.7 rating, the same number that Rock Center with Brian Williams pulled at 10 pm. (Not to worry, it’s not like the news magazine will have to compete in that important hour in the fall….)