Lakers - Celtics Series Gives ABC Best NBA Ratings in Years

NEW YORK (AP) -- The first two games of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers series on ABC were more popular than any National Basketball Association finals since 2004, a boon to a network otherwise off to a tough start to the summer season.

The series' second game was seen by 13.5 million people Sunday, slightly higher than Thursday's opener, according to Nielsen Media Research. Sunday's game was up 57 percent from the second game of last year's San Antonio-Cleveland series.

Not since 2004, when the Lakers took on the Detroit Pistons, has an NBA finals attracted this much attention, Nielsen said. The basketball series was twice as popular as hockey's Stanley Cup series on NBC last week; two games were seen by more than 6 million viewers.

Good thing for ABC, since the best the network could do otherwise was "The Bachelorette," which ranked No. 28 for the week.

CBS' "Million Dollar Password" with Regis Philbin did well Sunday, with 9.6 million viewers. That game and Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" are the strongest summer series so far.

CBS' wife-swapping drama "Swingtown" debuted with 8.6 million, making it the sixth most-watched drama of the week, Nielsen said.

With the broadcast networks in summer slumber mode, action heats up on cable. "Army Wives" had 4.5 million viewers for its season debut on Lifetime, making it the most-watched original drama in the network's 24-year history.

Similarly, "Ice Road Truckers" reached 3.9 million people Sunday, the best-ever season launch for a series in the History channel's own history.

CBS won the week, averaging 7.2 million prime-time viewers (4.9 rating, 9 share). Fox had 6.5 million (4.1, 7) and won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic it targets. ABC had 6.1 million (4.0, 7), NBC 5.7 million (3.7, 7), the CW 1.8 million (1.2, 2), My Network TV 1 million (0.7, 1) and ION Television 470,000 (0.3, 1).

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.2 million average (1.7 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1 million (0.6, 1), TeleFutura 640,000 (0.3, 1) and Azteca 110,000 (0.1, 0).

NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.8 million viewers, while ABC's "World News" had 7.6 million (both 5.3 ratings, 11 share). The "CBS Evening News" had 5.8 million viewers (4.0, 8).

A ratings point represents 1,128,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 112.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of June 2-8, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NBA Finals Game 2: L.A. Lakers vs. Boston, ABC, 13.5 million; NBA Finals Game 1: L.A. Lakers vs. Boston, ABC, 13.38 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 9.81 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 9.81 million; "Million Dollar Password," CBS, 9.62 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 9.61 million; "So You Think You Can Dance" (Wednesday), Fox, 9.56 million; "House," Fox, 9.44 million; "Hell's Kitchen," Fox, 9.36 million; "So You Think You Can Dance" (Thursday), Fox, 9.25 million.

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