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NBA Drives Third TNT Win

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TNT notched its third straight ratings win of 2010, sweeping the demos thanks to a clutch of high-profile NBA Playoff games.

For the week ended May 16, the Turner net averaged 1.33 million viewers 18-49, 1.29 million adults 25-54 and 657,000 viewers 18-34, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data.

Despite its demo prowess, TNT fell short of taking its third total-viewer crown, as USA Network rallied with an average prime time delivery of 3.2 million viewers. TNT took second with 2.51 million total nightly viewers.

In what would prove to be the most lopsided home playoff loss in team history, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 120-88 humiliation at the hands of the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semis drew 6.74 million viewers Tuesday, May 11. Some 3.79 million viewers 18-49 tuned in to TNT for the penultimate Cavs-Celts game, while another 3.52 million observers were members of the adults 25-54 demo.

TNT also drew a crowd with the fourth and deciding game of the Western Semis, as the May 10 Lakers-Jazz matchup averaged 5.08 million viewers, of which 3.11 million were viewers 18-49 and 2.72 million were adults 25-54. Kobe Bryant scored 32 points to help lead the defending champs to a 111-96 win.

Cable’s biggest draw of the week was Thursday night’s Cavs-Celts closer on ESPN, which drew 8.98 million viewers, a total that included 4.86 million viewers 18-49 and 4.52 million 25-54s. Despite notching his sixth career playoff triple-double, LeBron James endured another early exit as the Celtics slammed the door on Cleveland’s season with a 94-85 win in Boston.

ESPN finished third among total viewers (2.15 million), while taking second place with the younger demos, averaging 1.11 million viewers 18-49 and 556,000 18-34s. The sports net secured third place among the 25-54 set with an average nightly delivery of 1.05 million.

USA’s big numbers came courtesy of its WWE Raw franchise and the scripted series NCIS and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The NBC Universal powerhouse posted its best demo performance with its delivery of adults 25-54, finishing second on the week with an average draw of 1.23 million. USA also grabbed the 18-49 bronze (1.09 million) and finished fourth among 18-34s (462,000).

Closing out the top five, Fox News Channel averaged 1.81 million viewers, while Nick at Nite served up 1.8 million.