NBA Draft Ratings Score For ESPN, ‘Gong Show’ Debuts With Less Than A Bang


UPDATE, 2:40 PM: The first Round picks are all done and now the final numbers are in for last night’s NBA Draft – and it was three-pointers all round it seems. Up 15% from 2016 for the second most watched NBA Draft on ESPN after 2015’s event, last night’s b-ball future view drew 3.56 million viewers.

PREVIOUSLY,9:20 AM: There were a lot of game shows on and no basketball, but court action was in the spotlight in primetime last night with the NBA Draft on ESPN – and the action was good. The University of Washington’s Markelle Fultz was the first overall pick for the Philadelphia 76ers as NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the latest future of the league.

For ESPN, Round 1 of the 2017 NBA Draft drew a 2.7 in metered markets Thursday. Coming off an NBA Finals that was near record-breaking for ABC and ESPN, last night’s event live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was up 13% compared with 2016. The 2017 event was also the third highest-rated draft ever for the sports cabler, matching 2003. All of which means, ESPN looks poised to win the night on cable and broadcast.

For you stat fans, the highest-rated NBA Drafts were the 2014 and 2015 events, which each pulled in a 3.1 in metered market numbers.

Moving over to the Big 4, things stayed pretty steady for Fox as Beat Shazam (1.0/5) was even with its last original of two weeks ago. Actually, lead-out Love Connection (0.9/4) was up a tenth from its June 8 airing. In overall ratings, Fox won the night in the key 18-49 demo with a 0.9/4 over ABC and NBC’s 0.8/3.

CBS and the CW were all encores on Thursday, but ABC and NBC were all premieres, new and returning – with the Comcast-owned net winning the viewership category by a nose with 3.92 million watching.

For the returning shows on NBC it was a bumpy night, with the Season 5 opener of Hollywood Game Night (0.8/4) down 47% from its comparable Season 3 debut in summer 2015. Of course, unlike last night’s 8 PM airing, Hollywood Game Night’s Season 3 premiere on July 7, 2015 had summer blockbuster America’s Got Talent as a lead-in that Tuesday. Also feeling the ratings burn Thursday was the Season 4 debut of The Night Shift. In the same 10 PM slot as its Season 3 opener, the drama was down 45% in the key demo.

Stuck in the middle was the Season 2 debut of The Wall (0.9/4). Compared to the Chris Hardwick-hosted show’s last broadcast May 15 (a Monday), last night’s Wall was down a tenth.

With heavily made-up Mike Myers as mock host Tommy Maitland and a trio of celeb judges including producer Will Arnett, the new The Gong Show (0.9/4) made its premiere on ABC at 10 PM. The good news for the Disney-owned net is that Gong Show won its time slot. The bad news is the well-promoted revival floundered, especially compared to ABC’s other game shows revivals $100,000 Pyramid and Match Game from last year.

Unaided by a weak two-hour debut of Boy Band (0.7/3), Gong Show was down a hard 47% from Pyramid and 40% from the Alec Baldwin-hosted Match Game on June 27, 2016, a competitive Sunday. Looks like it might be a case of summertime blues, to throw in an Eddie Cochran reference, for ABC on Thursday nights – at least for now.

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