The season finales of “NCIS” and “Chicago Fire” were the only scripted programs to top 7 million viewers in a week that mixed the final three days of the official 2021-22 television season with the first four days of the summer season, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Wednesday.
The 19th season finale of the CBS action drama “NCIS” averaged 7.467 million viewers, second among prime-time programs airing between May 23 and Sunday, behind ESPN’s coverage of Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.
The 10th season finale of NBC’s “Chicago Fire” averaged 7.03 million viewers to finish third. The series finale of the NBC family drama “This Is Us” was ninth for the week and fourth among non-sports programs, averaging 6.368 million viewers, surpassing 6 million viewers for the first time since Nov. 17, 2020.
The six NBA conference finals games were all among the 10 most-watched prime-time programs, topped by the Boston Celtics’ 100-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday that averaged 9.875 million viewers, the most for an NBA conference finals game on ESPN in four years.
The series averaged 6.978 million viewers, with five of the games on ESPN and two on ABC. Viewership increased 40% from a 5.0 million average for TNT’s coverage of the Milwaukee Bucks’ six-game victory over the Atlanta Hawks last season.
TNT’s coverage of the Golden State Warriors’ five-game victory over the Dallas Mavericks averaged 6.7 million viewers, the network’s most for an NBA conference finals series since 2018. Viewership was up 23% from the 5.5- million average for the ESPN-ABC coverage of the Phoenix Suns’ six-game victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last year.
CBS had 11 of the 16 most-watched programs among the broadcast networks, including its 12 minutes of coverage of President Biden’s speech May 24 in response to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, to finish first for the 14th time in the 14 weeks following the conclusion of NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, and the 20th time in the 36-week-2021-22 television season, averaging 3.94 million viewers.
ESPN was second, averaging 3.398 million, followed by ABC, which averaged 2.9 million, and NBC, which averaged 2.86 million.
CBS, ESPN, ABC and NBC all aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
ABC’s most-watched program was Boston’s 102-82 victory over Miami in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals which averaged 6.41 million viewers, eighth for the week.
Fox averaged 2.28 million viewers for its 16 hours, 44 minutes of prime-time programming, topped by the premiere of the latest incarnation of the musical game show, “Don’t Forget The Lyrics!” which averaged 2.082 million viewers, 48th among prime-time broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
(A previous version aired on Fox from 2007-09.)
The CW averaged 360,000 viewers for its 14 hours of programming. Its most-watched program was the fourth-season finale of the high school football drama “All American,” which averaged 669,000 viewers, 150th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Even with NBC airing both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, CBS finished first for the 14th consecutive season and 19th time in 20 seasons, averaging 6.3 million viewers. NBC was second, averaging 6.07 million viewers, while ABC was third among broadcast networks airing a full 22 hours of prime- time programming each week, averaging 4.23 million viewers.
Fox, which broadcasts an average of 16 hours of prime-time programming per week, averaged 4.5 million. The CW, which broadcasts 14 hours of prime- time programming per week, averaged 660,000 viewers.
The 20 most-watched prime-time programs consisted of 10 programs that aired on CBS — seven scripted series episodes, the alternative series “Survivor,” an episode of “60 Minutes” with three previously broadcast segments updated for a post-season edition and 12 minutes of coverage of President Biden’s speech May 24 in response to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
Also in the top 20 were six NBA conference finals games — three on TNT, two on ESPN and one on ABC; the three elements of NBC’s “Chicago” franchise — “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.”; and the series finale of the NBC family drama “This Is Us.”
ESPN’s two NBA Eastern Conference Finals games made it the most- watched cable network, averaging 3.398 million viewers. Fox News Channel was second for the third time in four weeks, averaging 2.171 million viewers.
TNT was third after four first-place finishes in five weeks, averaging 2.136 million viewers, the other cable network to average more than 1 million viewers for its prime-time programming.
The cable top 20 consisted of 11 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” four of “Hannity” and two of “The Ingraham Angle”; five NBA conference finals games — three on ESPN and two on TNT; two nine-minute “NBA Courtside” pregame shows on ESPN and one six-minute version; and the May 24 edition of the CNN news program “Anderson Cooper 360,” the day of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting.
The most-watched Spanish-language program was Univision’s coverage of Sunday’s second and final leg of the Liga BBVA MX Clausura 2022 Finals between Atlas and Pachuca which averaged 2.216 million viewers, 63rd overall.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 130th consecutive week and 132nd time in 133 weeks, averaging 1.29 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 810,000 viewers, followed by UniMas (550,000), Estrella TV (110,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched nightly newscast for the 129th time in 130 weeks and 181th time in 183 weeks, averaging 7.427 million viewers. “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.327 million.
The “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell” was third, averaging 4.587 million.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ESPN’s coverage of Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; CBS’ “NCIS”; ESPN’s coverage of Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; NBC’s “Chicago Fire”; TNT’s coverage of Game 5 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals; NBC’s “Chicago Med”; ESPN’s coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; ABC’s coverage of Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals; NBC’s “This Is Us”; and TNT’s coverage of Game 4 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.