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If Only Every Night Were Sunday Night

6/11/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The first Sunday of the 2012 primetime summer
TV season was a ratings scorcher for cable networks.

Approximately one-fourth of the top 35 most-watched
shows for the week of May 28-June 3 aired Sunday (June 3), as
audiences flocked to cable to see the season finales of their favorite
shows, new-series premieres, and live sports and event
programming.

Sunday typically generates the week’s highest ratings during
the winter months, but the numbers fall off in the summer
when people are less likely to be home.

Still, June 3 was the most-watched day of the week for cable
viewers, drawing a 51 share of overall television watching,
according to Nielsen.

That came after cable’s week started with a loud bang.
The Memorial Day (May 28) primetime schedule, anchored
by 13.8 million viewers for the start of History’s three-night
Hatfield & McCoys, reached a 50 audience share.

“The viewers are always looking for something fresh and
spectacular, particularly at the end of the TV season [in May],
and cable has provided that,” TV historian Tim Brooks said.
“The beginning of the summer is extremely fertile territory for
networks to do something big, and viewers are used to watching
television on Sunday nights.”

Leading cable’s ratings charge was ESPN’s coverage of
Game 4 of the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference
finals
series between
the Miami
Heat and Boston
Celtics. The
game drew 11
million viewers,
a record
audience for
an ESPN NBA game
telecast,
according to
network officials.

At press
time, ESPN’s
Heat-Celtics
series was on
pace to dunk
the all-time, most-watched NBA playoff series mark, averaging
9.3 million viewers through the first five games of the
seven-game campaign. Game 7 was held this past Saturday
(June 9).

HBO’s hit fantasy/drama series Game of Thrones drew a
series-best 4.2 million viewers for its season two finale on
June 3, up 38% over its season one finale, HBO said. GOT was
a strong lead-in to HBO freshman comedy Veep, which posted
its second-highest audience take with 1.2 million viewers,
and Girls, with a series-best 1.1 million viewers.

Modern Western drama Longmire had the highest audience
ever for an A&E series premiere with 4.1 million viewers
on June 3, the network said. The Glades’ season-three
debut on A&E drew 3.1 million total viewers to rank among
the night’s top 40 shows.

The 2012 MTV Movie Awards pulled in 3.1 million viewers,
a steep decline from 4.5 million viewers in 2011.

September