NBA Finals sag in ratings for week of Oct. 5-11 as ’60 Minutes’ wins again

Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated entertainment program for the week.(Michael Becker / Fox)

The NBA Finals drew record-low viewership facing unprecedented sports competition because of its shift to the fall, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the one-sided nature of the games.

ABC’s coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers’ six-game victory over the Miami Heat averaged 7.487 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen on Tuesday. The previous low was the 9.29-million average for the San Antonio Spurs’ four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 finals.

Each of the first four games averaged fewer viewers than any finals game on record before this year. Records are available dating back to 1988.

The closest game of the series was also the most-watched. The Lakers’ 111-108 loss in Game 5 Friday averaged 8.89 million viewers, 10th among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Oct. 5 and Sunday.

The Lakers’ series-clinching 106-93 victory in Game 6 Sunday, which aired mostly opposite NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” averaged 8.291 million viewers, 13th for the week.

The 28-point lead at halftime was the second-largest of an NBA Finals game, behind only the Lakers’ 30-point deficit to the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1985 Finals, known as the Memorial Day Massacre.

The Lakers held a 32-point lead in the third quarter of Game 1 on Sept. 30; that game averaged a record-low 7.576 million viewers. The record was erased two days later by the 6.909-million average for Game 2, and by Game 3 two days after that, which averaged 5.935 million. All but the two Sunday games were the highest-rated programs of their nights.

Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” handed “Sunday Night Football” a rare loss in the race to be the week’s top-rated program. The Chicago Bears’ 20-19 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Fox averaged 15.117 million, while the Seattle Seahawks’ 27-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on NBC averaged 15.08 million.

CBS’ first Monday night NFL telecast since 1969 was a close third, with the Kansas City Chiefs’ 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots averaging 14.703 million viewers.

Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the most-watched prime-time entertainment program for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.014 million viewers, 25th overall, one spot ahead of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” which averaged 5.892 million.

CBS’ Monday night football game, its Sunday NFL runover and “60 Minutes” helped the network edge ABC, 5.77 million to 5.73 million, to be the most-watched network. NBC was third, averaging 4.86 million, and Fox News Channel averaged 4.415 million. All four networks aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.

Fox averaged 4.27 million viewers for its 16 hours, 39 minutes of prime-time programming.

CBS averaged 26.081 million viewers for its 49-minute runover of its afternoon NFL coverage into prime time in the Eastern and Central time zones. The runover is not considered a separate program but is included in the weekly average.

The CBS News magazine “60 Minutes” had the week’s biggest audience for a non-NFL program, averaging 12.041 million viewers.

Fox News Channel was the highest-rated cable network for the 37th time in 38 weeks, averaging 4.415 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 2.75 million, and CNN third, averaging 2.59 million.

There were 11.943 million viewers watching the vice presidential debate on Fox News Channel, more than any other cable or broadcast source.

Overall the debate between Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris last Wednesday averaged 57.9 million viewers on 18 broadcast and cable networks, the second-most for a vice presidential debate, trailing only the 2008 debate between then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, which averaged 69.9 million viewers.

Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” was the most-streamed program for the second consecutive week, according to Nielsen’s latest streaming report released Thursday, with viewers watching 1.655 million minutes of the 20 episodes of the sequel to the 1984 film “The Karate Kid” from Sept. 7-13.

Netflix’s science fiction drama “Away” was second, with viewers watching 1.366 million minutes.

The streaming report covers programming on Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu and Netflix.

Falcons fire coach Dan Quinn, GM Thomas Dimitroff after 0-5 start

By Grant Gordon,

Five losses started Dan Quinn’s sixth season as Atlanta Falcons head coach. That 0-5 beginning has also brought about the end to Quinn’s tenure as Falcons head coach.

Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired on Sunday after the Falcons’ 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the team announced.

In a team statement, the Falcons announced president and CEO Rich McKay has assumed oversight of the teams’ day-to-day operation and that an interim coach is expected to be announced on Monday. In addition, the team announced McKay and owner Arthur Blank would lead the search for a new GM and head coach.

“Decisions like these are very difficult, but the previous two seasons and start to this one have been especially hard for me because of the deep love, admiration and respect I and my family have for Dan, Thomas and their families,” Blank said in the statement. “For many years, they have represented me, our team, organization and Atlanta with class, commitment and all the passion you would want in the leaders of the team. But as everyone knows, this is a results business and I owe it to our fans to put the best product we can on the field. We have poured every resource possible into winning and will continue to do so, but the results of late do not meet our standard or what I’ve promised our fans. Therefore, we will install new coaching and personnel leadership of the Atlanta Falcons at the appropriate time.

“Our finish in 2019 earned an opportunity to show that momentum could be continued and built upon, but that has clearly not happened. And overall, the last three-plus seasons have fallen short of my commitment to Atlanta and to our fans everywhere. I want them all to know that my commitment to winning has not wavered and I will continue to provide every resource possible to that end.”

Following Bill O’Brien’s dismissal as Houston Texans head coach and general manager, Quinn is the second head coach of the 2020 season to be fired and Dimitroff is the second general manager.

“We are moving forward and will do everything we can to help this year’s team win as many games as possible while putting a strong plan in place to execute these important leadership searches with an eye to positioning the Falcons for success well into the future. We owe that to our fans,” McKay said in the statement.

Silver: Why Falcons fired Quinn, Dimitroff after loss in Week 5

Dimitroff departs Atlanta in the midst of an unlucky 13th season, having overseen six playoff berths in his time and the hiring of Quinn. With a squad seen by most as having the talent to succeed, the lackluster results proved otherwise and now a rebuild has begun.

“Thomas Dimitroff has been with us through a lot, including a vast majority of my ownership of the team,” Blank said. “I’ve seen his two beautiful children grow up here and I have great personal affection for him and his family. I’m also grateful for his hard work and contributions to our many successes over the last 10 years. He came in at a time when the franchise needed to rebuild trust in this community. By bringing in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and several others, we changed the trajectory of the franchise and set us up for a run of success the team had never achieved before. I am very appreciative of Thomas’ many contributions to the Atlanta Falcons and wish him great success in his future pursuits.”

In his five seasons and change in Atlanta, Quinn, 50, leaves one game over .500, having produced a 43-42 record in the regular season. His teams had two playoff trips, highlighted by a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Alas, Atlanta has had consecutive losing seasons and hardly appears headed to the postseason dance or above .500 this year.

Blank is regarded for his patience and it was put on display throughout the 2019 season when a talent-laden Falcons squad was rife with injury and defeat. Atlanta began 2019 at 1-7, but Blank stood with Quinn and the Falcons responded by winning six of their final eight games and four in a row to head into the offseason with renewed hope.

But five losses to begin the 2020 season — the first three seeing the Falcons collapse and squander sizable leads — was finally enough for Blank to call upon a new dawn in Georgia.

Having reached the heights of a Super Bowl LI berth to conclude the 2016 season, Quinn’s time coaching in Atlanta stumbled in the wake of the Falcons’ much-bemoaned 34-28 loss to the Patriots in the title game of title games. Having built a now infamous 28-3 lead, the Falcons fell to the most memorable Super Bowl comeback of all-time.

Atlanta was able to return to the playoffs the following season, but 2018 and 2019 followed with 7-9 losing campaigns that fell short of the playoffs and the expectations in reserve for a team with standouts such as Ryan and Jones.

Injuries continue to be problematic for the Falcons, just as much as the perception of potential unrealized and the inability to close out victories does.

Forever shadowed by a Super Bowl fall, the Falcons’ 2020 defeats were a reminder of what was lost long ago and what has failed to be reconstructed. It was the opposition that came back and the Falcons who fell short of closing out victories.

And now, Quinn won’t be closing out the season as the Falcons have made the call to move on.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott to undergo surgery Sunday for compound right ankle fracture


Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will undergo surgery Sunday night after suffering a compound right ankle fracture and dislocation in the third quarter of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the New York Giants, the team announced.

On what appeared to be a designed quarterback draw play on a first-and-10 from the New York 27-yard line, Prescott picked up nine yards but his lower right leg twisted awkwardly on a tackle by the Giants’ Logan Ryan.

Prescott was carted off the field as many of his teammates offered him encouragement, shedding tears as he exited. The Cowboys later announced he was transported to a local hospital.

“I feel terrible for him,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He was having a tremendous year. He has made such an impression on me and clearly a leader on this football team. No doubt he will bounce back.”

Jerry Jones said in a statement Sunday night that the organization has “no doubt” that Prescot will return “to the position of leadership and purpose that he brings to our team.”

And we have no doubt that he will return to the position of leadership and purpose that he brings to our team.

Prescott’s injury reverberated throughout the locker room following the game.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott said: “It sucks. It sucks. I know we won. But it sucks to lose Dak, our leader.”

Rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb told reporters he reached out to Prescott immediately after the game.

“I appreciate everything he’s done for me,” Lamb said. “I can’t thank him enough. I told him we’re gonna hold it down until we get to see him on the field with us again.”

Linebacker Jaylon Smith said: “Devastating when you lose your No. 1. I know how it feels. I’ve experienced it myself. I know Dak is a fighter. Just looking forward to hearing his voice … When that happened, everything was about 4. It was about getting that win for him.”

Prescott had been off to a remarkable start to the season in passing for more yardage than any QB in NFL history over a four-game span (1,690). The 27-year-old Pro Bowler is playing on Dallas’ franchise tag after he and the team were unable to agree to terms on a long-term deal in the offseason.

Andy Dalton replaced Prescott with the Cowboys holding a 24-23 lead and would led the offense on a game-winning drive in the closing seconds.

“First and foremost, the worst thing that happened today was the Dak injury,” Ryan said to open his postgame press conference. “I mean, bigger than football. I feel terrible.”

Hall of Famer and Cowboys great Troy Aikman was one of many from the NFL community to send their well wishes to Prescott on social media.