Opening of NBA playoffs gives ratings win to ABC, ESPN

There's no overwhelming favorite for NBA champion as the playoffs start, but that was by no means a problem for ABC and ESPN

The NBA playoffs have begun with no clear championship favorite, and that appears to be good news for ABC and ESPN.

The opening-round schedule of five games last weekend on the networks had more viewers than any playoff start since 2011, and its average of 4.17 million was up 32% over last year, the Nielsen company said.

Leading the way was the instant classic between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, with 6.9 million viewers Sunday afternoon, making it the most-watched first round game since 2016, Nielsen said. Viewership peaked at 9.8 million when the Celtics hit a last-second layup to win 115-114.

Among the broadcast networks, CBS led the way last week with an average of 4.5 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 3.5 million, NBC had 3 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 1.4 million, Ion Television had 1 million and Telemundo had 800,000.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks with a prime-time average of 2.24 million viewers. TNT had 1.59 million, ESPN had 1.23 million, MSNBC had 1.16 million and HGTV had 977,000.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings with an average of 8 million viewers last week. NBC's “Nightly News” had 6.6 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.6 million.

For the week of April 11-17, the top 20 most-watched prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. “FBI,” CBS, 7.39 million.

2. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.12 million.

3. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.11 million.

4. “Young Sheldon," CBS, 6.85 million.

5. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 6.77 million.

6. “The Equalizer,” CBS, 6.64 million.

7. “Ghosts,” CBS, 5.96 million.

8. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 5.92 million.

9. “FBI: International," CBS, 5.79 million.

10. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.64 million.

11. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.43 million.

12. “CMT Music Awards,” CBS, 5.33 million.

13. “American Idol” (Monday), ABC, 5.31 million.

14. “American Idol” (Sunday), ABC, 5.27 million.

15. “Survivor,” CBS, 5.08 million.

16. “America's Funniest Home Videos,” ABC, 5.07 million.

17. “911,” Fox, 5.06 million.

18. “United States of Al,” CBS, 4.91 million.

19. NBA Playoffs: Chicago at Milwaukee, Turner, 4.77 million.

20. “Law & Order: SVU,” NBC, 4.74 million.

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