Both NBA conference final series went the distance this year, and TNT and ESPN were rewarded with big ratings, dominating another week on cable.

The seven games that aired during the week of May 21 drew the seven best adults 18-49 ratings of the week and the seven largest total audiences. Post-game editions of “Inside the NBA” and “SportsCenter” snagged the next seven spots in the 18-49 demo and spots 8-11 in total viewers.

In both measures, ESPN’s telecast of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals finished first, scoring 13.31 million viewers and a 4.9 rating among adults 18-49.

Top 25 original cable shows (including ties) in adults 18-49 for May 21-27, 2018

Rank Show Net Day Time 18-49 rating
18-49 viewers (000s)*
1 NBA EAST FINALS – CAVALIERS/CELTICS GM 7 ESPN Sun. 8:30 PM 4.9 6,259
2 NBA WEST FINALS – WARRIORS/ROCKETS GM 5 TNT Thurs. 9:00 PM 3.6 4,544
3 NBA WEST FINALS – ROCKETS/WARRIORS GM 6 TNT Sat. 8:58 PM 3.4 4,339
4 NBA WEST FINALS – ROCKETS/WARRIORS GM 4 TNT Tues. 9:00 PM 3.1 3,968
NBA EAST FINALS – CELTICS/CAVALIERS GM 4 ESPN Mon. 8:30 PM 3.1 3,917
6 NBA EAST FINALS – CELTICS/CAVALIERS GM 6 ESPN Fri. 8:34 PM 2.9 3,763
7 NBA EAST FINALS – CAVALIERS/CELTICS GM 5 ESPN Weds. 8:30 PM 2.7 3,507
8 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Sun. 11:07 PM 1.8 2,266
9 INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Sat. 11:27 PM 1.7 2,138
INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Tues. 11:32 PM 1.7 2,125
INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Thurs. 11:36 PM 1.7 2,125
12 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Fri. 11:08 PM 1.2 1,485
13 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Mon. 11:18 PM 1.1 1,459
SPORTSCENTER ESPN Weds. 11:09 PM 1.1 1,344
15 LOVE & HIP HOP ATLANTA VH1 Mon. 8:00 PM 1.0 1,293
JERSEY SHORE FAMILY VACATION MTV Thurs. 8:00 PM 1.0 1,254
17 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 0.9 1,165
NHL EAST FINALS – CAPITALS/LIGHTNING GM 7 NBCSN Weds. 8:03 PM 0.9 1,165
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 9:00 PM 0.9 1,152
NBA PREGAME ESPN Sun. 7:30 PM 0.9 1,114
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 10:00 PM 0.9 1,088
22 BASKETBALL WIVES VH1 Mon. 9:00 PM 0.8 1,050
23 NHL EAST FINALS – LIGHTNING/CAPITALS GM 6 NBCSN Mon. 8:02 PM 0.7 896
NBA PREGAME TNT Sat. 8:00 PM 0.7 883
TEEN MOM II MTV Mon. 9:00 PM 0.7 870
WWE SMACKDOWN USA Tues. 8:00 PM 0.7 870

*Adults 18-49 viewer figures are approximate.

Top 25 original cable shows in total viewers for May 21-27, 2018

Rank Show Net Day Time
Viewers (000s)
1 NBA EAST FINALS – CAVALIERS/CELTICS GM 7 ESPN Sun. 8:30 PM 13,305
2 NBA WEST FINALS – ROCKETS/WARRIORS GM 6 TNT Sat. 8:58 PM 9,471
3 NBA WEST FINALS – WARRIORS/ROCKETS GM 5 TNT Thurs. 9:00 PM 9,236
4 NBA WEST FINALS – ROCKETS/WARRIORS GM 4 TNT Tues. 9:00 PM 8,296
5 NBA EAST FINALS – CELTICS/CAVALIERS GM 6 ESPN Fri. 8:34 PM 8,089
6 NBA EAST FINALS – CELTICS/CAVALIERS GM 4 ESPN Mon. 8:30 PM 7,775
7 NBA EAST FINALS – CAVALIERS/CELTICS GM 5 ESPN Weds. 8:30 PM 7,346
8 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Sun. 11:07 PM 4,258
9 INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Sat. 11:27 PM 4,087
10 INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Tues. 11:32 PM 3,735
11 INSIDE THE NBA PLAYOFFS TNT Thurs. 11:36 PM 3,731
12 HANNITY FNC Weds. 9:00 PM 3,249
13 HANNITY FNC Tues. 9:00 PM 3,237
14 HANNITY FNC Mon. 9:00 PM 3,057
15 HANNITY SPECIAL FNC Thurs. 9:00 PM 2,938
16 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Fri. 11:08 PM 2,813
17 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 2,792
18 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 9:00 PM 2,767
19 THE INGRAHAM ANGLE FNC Weds. 10:00 PM 2,720
20 THE INGRAHAM ANGLE FNC Tues. 10:00 PM 2,708
21 THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW MSNBC Tues. 9:00 PM 2,672
22 THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW MSNBC Thurs. 9:00 PM 2,666
23 TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT FNC Mon. 8:00 PM 2,649
24 TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT FNC Thurs. 8:00 PM 2,633
25 NHL EAST FINALS – CAPITALS/LIGHTNING GM 7 NBCSN Weds. 8:03 PM 2,577

All ratings are live + same-day. Source: The Nielsen Company.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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