NEW YORK (AP) The second straight NBA Finals matchup between Golden State and Cleveland got off to a promising start for ABC, but the network has to be hoping the series becomes more competitive in a hurry.
The first two games averaged 18.3 million viewers, the Nielsen company said on Tuesday. Except for last year's two-game average of 18.5 million, it's the best start for the NBA Finals for viewers since the 2001 series between Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
But the trend line isn't good: while the first game had 19.2 million viewers, Sunday night's blowout win for the Warriors dropped to 17.5 million, Nielsen said. It was the opposite last year, where an overtime second game outdrew the series opener.
Unless Cleveland can get back into it when the series heads east on Wednesday, viewership interest will likely continue to fade.
The Simon Cowell effect was worth half a million viewers to NBC's ''America's Got Talent.'' The series' summer premiere, with Cowell as a new judge, drew nearly 11.7 million viewers last week. The season-opener with Howard Stern last year had 11.1 million viewers, Nielsen said.
NBC's summer variety series with Maya Rudolph and Martin Short had a moderately promising debut, reaching 6.3 million viewers on its first night.
ABC won the week with an average of 6.9 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 4.9 million, NBC had 4.6 million, Fox had 2.8 million, Univision had 2.2 million, Telemundo had 1.41 million, ION Television had 1.37 million and the CW had 980,000.
TNT was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.37 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel had 1.71 million, the Disney Channel had 1.57 million, HGTV had 1.56 million and USA had 1.55 million.
ABC's ''World News Tonight'' nipped its rivals at NBC in the nightly news evening race for its third win in a row. ABC averaged 7.8 million viewers, NBC's ''Nightly News'' had 7.7 million and the ''CBS Evening News'' had 6.5 million.
For the week of May 30-June 5, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NBA Finals: Cleveland vs. Golden State, Game 1, ABC, 19.2 million; NBA Finals: Cleveland vs. Golden State, Game 2, ABC, 17.49 million; NBA Playoffs: Oklahoma City vs. Golden State, Game 7, TNT, 16 million; ''America's Got Talent,'' NBC, 11.67 million; ''NBA Finals Post-Game,'' ABC, 9.15 million; ''60 Minutes,'' CBS, 8.27 million; ''Game of Thrones,'' HBO, 7.8 million; ''The Big Bang Theory,'' CBS, 7.79 million; ''NCIS,'' CBS, 7.42 million; ''NCIS: New Orleans,'' CBS, 6.98 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.