Until the current season, ABC had never cast a black man or woman as the lead character in "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." There were suggestions that some at the network feared it would hurt the show among the primarily older people who enjoy the fantasy franchise.
Three weeks into Rachel Lindsay's reign as "The Bachelorette," the show's audience is down from last year, the Nielsen company said. That doesn't make it unusual; ratings for reality series are down across the board this year.
ABC had gone through 12 editions of "The Bachelorette" and 21 versions of "The Bachelor" before a black character got the lead role. ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, the first black to have her job for a major broadcast network, had talked about increasing the show's diversity. Lindsay, a Texas lawyer, earned her spot the way many past bachelorettes had, by being a popular contestant in a previous edition of "The Bachelor."
Through three episodes, the show's average of 7.2 million viewers is down 11 percent from last season's edition, Nielsen said. But it's on par with other editions of "The Bachelorette," which averaged 7.7 million in 2015, 7.6 million in 2014 and 6.9 million in 2013.
Viewership for the most recent edition of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was down 8 percent from the previous year, and "The Bachelor" was off 6 percent. CBS' "Survivor" was down 5 percent and NBC's "The Voice" was down 6 percent, Nielsen said.
ABC was dominant in prime time last week with two games of the NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland. The network averaged 6.8 million viewers, while NBC was second with 5.5 million. CBS had 4.8 million viewers, Fox had 2.1 million, Univision had 1.7 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 880,000 and the CW had 820,000.
Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.33 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.81 million, USA had 1.44 million, HGTV had 1.39 million and TBS had 1.34 million.
ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 7.9 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 7 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.9 million.
For the week of June 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NBA Finals: Golden State at Cleveland, Game 3, ABC, 20.1 million; NBA Finals: Golden State at Cleveland, Game 4, ABC, 19.01 million; "America's Got Talent" (Tuesday), NBC, 12.53 million; "World of Dance," NBC, 8.42 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 7.88 million. "Little Big Shots," NBC, 7.04 million; "Celebrity Family Feud" (Sunday), ABC, 7.03 million; Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh at Nashville, Game 6, NBC, 6.99 million; "NCIS," CBS, 6.74 million; "Celebrity Family Feud" (Thursday, 9 p.m.), ABC, 6.25 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.