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Stars draw viewers to ‘Dancing,’ Pitt talk

David Bauder Associated Press

More television viewers were interested in B-list stars learning how to dance and Diane Sawyer interviewing Brad Pitt than either of the first two games of the National Basketball Association finals.

Fortunately for ABC, the network televised all of those events.

The summer series “Dancing With the Stars” topped the Nielsen Media Research ratings last week in its second week on the air, with 15.1 million people tuning in.

A “Primetime Live” special with Sawyer pressing Pitt on his love life – and his acting – hit the Nielsen top 10 with 11.2 million viewers.

Pro basketball’s premiere event is a flop so far, with 10.6 million people watching the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons in the first game last Thursday, and 10.7 million seeing the same result in Sunday’s Game 2.

Five years ago, more than 15 million people watched each of the first two games of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Indiana Pacers. In last year’s deciding fifth game between the Pistons and Lakers, there were 21.8 million viewers, Nielsen said.

Why is the NBA slumping this year? Some critics say that relegating playoff coverage to cable TV up until the final round hurt the ability to bring in casual fans, as did the lack of competitive teams this year in big-market areas like New York and Los Angeles.

Helped by a Monday night “Two and a Half Men” marathon, CBS won the week with an average of 7.9 million viewers in prime time (5.5 rating, 10 share). ABC had 6.8 million (4.6, 8) and easily won among the 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

NBC averaged 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 8), Fox 5.3 million (3.5, 6), UPN 2.8 million (1.8, 3) and the WB 2.3 million (1.6, 3).

The top 10 shows for the week ending Sunday: “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 15.1 million viewers; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 12.7 million; “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 11.5 million; “Two and a Half Men” (Monday-10 p.m.), CBS, 11.4 million; “Primetime Live Special Edition,” ABC, 11.2 million; “Two and a Half Men” (Monday-9 p.m.), CBS, 11.1 million; “Two and a Half Men” (Monday-10:30 p.m.), CBS, 10.9 million; NBA Finals Game 2: Detroit vs. San Antonio, ABC, 10.7 million; NBA Finals Game 1: Detroit vs. San Antonio, ABC, 10.6 million; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.3 million.

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