With twists and flourishes that would constitute a whole season for most shows, Fox’s Empire (1.6/7) concluded its fourth season Wednesday on a night that also saw ends for Survivor (1.4/6), Law & Order: SVU (1.2/5) and Star (1.2/5).
Yet the real slam-dunk ratings victory was on cable with ESPN’s airing of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, a solid victory for the surging Boston Celtics. Now leading the series 3-2, Boston beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83. The triumph scored a 5.7 metered market result for the Disney-owned sports net and won the night overall.
— NBA (@NBA) May 24, 2018
Not only did the game give ESPN a win but continued the trend of that the NBA playoffs is proving a magnet for America’s eyeballs this year. Case in point, Wednesday’s Game 5 was up a nice 30% from last year’s comparable battle when the same two teams faced off in a series the Cavs ultimately won. To pull back to a slightly larger perspective, the 2018 NBA playoffs are up 17% overall over 2017 at this point.
The Celtics are 10-0 now in postseason home games, but Game 6 moves to Cleveland tomorrow.
On a night of finales sprinkled in with encores and movies on the Big 4, the Wednesday advantage went to Fox thanks to Empire, the hip-hop drama created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Though down 36% from its Season 3 ender to a finale low, Empire last night was even with its May 16 show. Overall, with a Star season finale that tripped a tenth from last week, Fox won the broadcast primetime night among adults 18-49 with a 1.4/6 rating.
A Survivor-filled night on CBS saw the flat Ghost Island emerge as Wednesday’s most watched show in primetime with 7.40 million sets of eyeballs. However, down 26% from its last spring finale on May 24, 2017, Survivor also hit a finale low as the ratings left the island, so to speak. Facing the Celtics-Cavs game and its aftermath, the 10 PM Reunion (1.1/5) special stumble 15% from last year.
Otherwise the only other original of the night was NBC’s two-hour L&O: SVU Season 19 ender. Up 20% in the key demo from last week, the Dick Wolf series was fairly steady with its Season 18 finale of May 24, 2017 with just a dip of tenth. ABC’s primetime was filled with an airing of Toy Story 3 (0.7/3) and a special 20/20 (0.5/2).
As for tonight, up against an estate-contested Michael Jackson special on ABC, expect more strong NBA strong results as TNT airs Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals between Golden State and Houston. That series is tied 2-2.