Hoops Hoists TNT To Top Primetime Perch

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After USA Network ran the table during the first 16 weeks of 2008, TNT has put together a primetime win streak of its own – albeit by a slim margin during the week of May 5-11.

For the second consecutive week, the “drama” network, on the back of its "40 Games in 40 Nights" National Basketball Association playoff stunt, beat the “characters” network, which this go-round received a major boost from Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones.

TNT averaged 2.86 million viewers during the aforementioned span, compared to 2.84 million for USA, according to a Disney ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

Advertising-free Disney Channel was third with 1.82 million viewers on average in primetime, just ahead of the 1.81 garnered by Nick at Nite.

ESPN, which also is benefiting from the NBA’s post-season, finished fifth with 1.77 million, while Fox News Channel was sixth at 1.67 million. Fox’s fortunes were boosted by the May 6 presidential primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. CNN took the night with 2.66 million viewers on average, versus 2.14 million for Fox News, but that performance failed to crack the top 10 overall: the Time Warner property was 12th for the week with a 1.13 million average in the daypart.

Rounding out the top 10: TBS with 1.63; Lifetime Television with 1.32 million; Cartoon Network with 1.23 milion; and Discovery Channel, behind the lure of the May 6 installment of Deadliest Catch, which finished 26th for the week with 3.45 million watchers, netted 1.23 million on average.

Banking on the hype of the upcoming fourth iteration of the action theatrical franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, USA posted big numbers with the first three installments: The original, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was the top show for the week, which chased 5.63 million viewers on May 10 from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

All told. USA claimed seven of the top 22 shows for the week, including four of the top six (two WWE showings and Temple of Doom, placed fourth through sixth, respectively).

Playoff hoops --  led by 4.87 million for the opening game of the Boston Celtics-Cleveland Cavaliers series on May 6, which was third for the week -- gave TNT five of the top 27 shows during the period.

However, ESPN’s coverage of the May 8 affair between the New Orleans Hornets and San Antonio Spurs produced the top NBA Nielsen score and second for the week overall with 4.95 million viewers.

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