NEW YORK – More television viewers were interested in B-list stars learning how to dance and Diane Sawyer interviewing Brad Pitt (search) than either of the first two games of the NBA Finals (search).
Fortunately for ABC, the network televised all of those events.
The summer series "Dancing With the Stars (search)" topped the Nielsen Media Research ratings in its second week on the air, with 15.1 million people tuning in.
Pro basketball's premiere event is a flop so far, with 10.6 million people watching the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons in the first game, and 10.7 million seeing the same result in Sunday's Game 2.
Five years ago, more than 15 million people watched each of the first two games of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Indiana Pacers. In last year's deciding fifth game between the Pistons and Lakers, there were 21.8 million viewers, Nielsen said.
Why is the NBA slumping this year? Some critics say that relegating the playoffs up until the finals to cable TV hurt its ability to bring in casual fans, as did the lack of competitive teams this year in big market areas like New York and Los Angeles.
A "Primetime Live" special with Sawyer pressing Pitt on his love life — and his acting — hit the Nielsen top 10 with 11.2 million viewers.
Helped by a "Two and a Half Men" marathon last Monday, CBS won the week with an average of 7.9 million viewers (5.5 rating, 10 share). ABC had 6.8 million (4.6, 8), and easily won among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. NBC had 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 8), Fox 5.3 million (3.5, 6), UPN 2.8 million (1.8, 3), the WB 2.3 million (1.6, 3) and Pax TV 580,000 (0.4, 1).
NBC's "Nightly News" won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.2 million viewers (5.9, 13). ABC's "World News Tonight" had 7.9 million viewers (5.6, 12) and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.5 million (4.8, 10).
A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
For the week of June 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Dancing With the Stars," ABC, 15.1 million; "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," CBS, 12.7 million; "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 11.5 million; "Two and a Half Men" (Monday-10 p.m.), CBS, 11.4 million; "Primetime Live Special Edition," ABC, 11.2 million; "Two and a Half Men" (Monday-9 p.m.), CBS, 11.1 million; "Two and a Half Men" (Monday-10:30 p.m.), CBS, 10.9 million; NBA Finals Game 2: Detroit vs. San Antonio, ABC, 10.7 million; NBA Finals Game 1: Detroit vs. San Antonio, ABC, 10.6 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.3 million.