Stoked by its coverage of the National Basketball Association playoffs, Turner Network Television slam-dunked the competition in basic cable’s primetime-ratings race in May.
The drama network averaged a 2.8 household rating from April 26-May 30, as NBA postseason action on its air grabbed 12 of the top-20 highest-rated shows of the month, including the first nine, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.
TNT’s performance -- up 8% from the 2.6 it posted in May 2003 -- easily outdistanced second-place Nickelodeon’s 2.1 average (up 5%), USA Network’s 1.6 (ahead 13%) and the 1.5 registered by both Disney Channel (14% growth) and Nick at Nite (not applicable).
The ratings for Nick and Nick at Nite reflect nine and 12 hours of programming in primetime, respectively, versus 21 for other services. Beginning with its April month, Nielsen began rating Nick and its spinoff as separate services even though they share the same channel space.
Rounding out the top 10 in primetime during May: ESPN (ahead 25%) and Cartoon Network (down 12%), each with 1.5 averages; Lifetime Television at a 1.3 (off 19%); Fox News Channel with a 1.2 (down 20%); and TBS Superstation (off 8%) and MTV: Music Television (up 38%), both with a 1.1.
Elsewhere on the news-network front, Cable News Network finished with a 0.7 (down 13%), while MSNBC and CNN Headline News were flat at a 0.3 and a 0.2, respectively.
Gauged on a total-day basis, Nick was in its usual first-place perch with a 1.8, topping its space-sharing service and TNT, both at a 1.3.
Cartoon and Disney ranked fourth and fifth with 1.1 and 1.0 averages, respectively.
Nick at Nite airs Sunday-Thursday from 9 p.m.-6 a.m. and from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Nick airs during the balance on the service, save for weekdays from 6 a.m.-6:30 a.m., when Cable in the Classroom fare runs.
Back in primetime, TNT’s presentation of the third game of the Western Conference Finals between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers May 25 garnered a month’s best 6.8 household mark.
ESPN also scored with NBA playoff coverage as its Eastern Conference Finals matchups between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers May 24 and 26 shared the month’s 11th spot at a 4.2.