'Game of Thrones,' ABC's games dominate Sunday

NEW YORK, N.Y. – On an unusually busy summer night of television, viewers turned out Sunday for game shows, “Game of Thrones” and a BET awards show stuffed with tributes to the late Prince.

HBO drew a record audience of 8.9 million for the sixth season finale of the fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” besting the 8.1 million for the previous season-ender, the Nielsen company said Tuesday.

That’s usually only a fraction of the number of people who catch an episode once DVR playbacks, reruns and HBO Go viewings are added in. Viewership more than doubles, and gets close to tripling, with time-shifting taken into account, according to the research firm Samba TV.

ABC may be growing as a family favourite by bunching remakes of classic game shows on Sunday. The first edition of its game night featured “The $100,000 Pyramid,” ”Celebrity Family Feud” and “Match Game,” and each program landed among Nielsen’s 10 most-watched programs of the week.

Viacom’s decision to televise Sunday’s BET Awards across 12 of its networks, including Nickelodeon and MTV, may have saved the program from an embarrassing ratings story. The show was seen on Sunday by 7.2 million viewers, with 4.5 million watching on BET. Last year, when it was shown on BET and its Centric offshoot, the viewership was 6.3 million, Nielsen said.

The BET event had its share of memorable moments, from multiple performances of Prince numbers to Justin Timberlake attracting some Twitter hate for saying on social media that he liked an attention-getting speech on black culture by actor Jesse Williams.

That attracted the notice of “senior black-skinned correspondent” Roy Wood Jr. on “The Daily Show,” who said Timberlake deserved credit.

“He was watching the BET Awards when every other white person was watching ‘Game of Thrones,'” Wood said.

CBS narrowly won the week in prime time, averaging 4.64 million viewers. NBC had 4.59 million viewers, ABC had 4.46 million, Univision had 3 million, Fox had 2.2 million, Telemundo had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million and the CW had 920,000.

Fox News Channel was the week’s most popular cable network, as it celebrated the news of having its best half-year ratings in its 20-year history. Fox News averaged 1.93 million viewers last week, the Disney Channel had 1.73 million, HGTV had 1.54 million, USA had 1.53 million and Discovery had 1.46 million.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening newscasts for the fifth time in the past six weeks. It averaged 7.8 million viewers to the 7.7 million for NBC’s “Nightly News” and 6.4 million for the “CBS Evening News.”

For the week of June 20-26, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 11.73 million; “Game of Thrones,” HBO, 8.89 million; “The $100,000 Pyramid,” ABC, 8.09 million; “Celebrity Family Feud,” ABC, 7.98 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.56 million; “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 7.21 million; “The Bachelorette,” ABC, 7.05 million; “Match Game,” ABC, 6.64 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 6.58 million; “American Ninja Warrior,” NBC, 6.54 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.