ABC, ESPN Dunk Competition With Surge in Christmas Day NBA Ratings

Rockets vs. Thunder game leads broadcast network to its best Christmas primetime in 14 years

LeBron Christmas ABC
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Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors held off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals on Monday. But the real gift went to ABC in the form of a ratings surge for Christmas Day NBA coverage. ESPN didn’t do too shabby either.

Overall, the Disney-owned networks’ four-game slate averaged a 3.9 household rating in metered markets — up 39 percent compared to last year’s five Christmas Day games, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen.

The 99-92 Warriors win was the fifth-highest rated early game (3 p.m. ET) in ABC’s history, pulling in a 5.5 rating. And it wasn’t just James versus Durant that had viewers tuning in. The Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder matchup was ABC’s highest-rated primetime game since 2003, with a 4.1 rating.

The tilt between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers on ESPN was the network’s top 12 p.m. ET Christmas game since 2012, with a 2.4 rating. The World Wide Leader in Sports’ second game of the day, a Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics matchup, posted a 3.7 rating.

Overall, ABC was first in broadcast ratings for the night, with a 1.8 rating/7 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and in total viewers with an average of 5.5 million.

Part of ABC and ESPN’s strong holiday numbers can be chalked up to compelling matchups, or the schedule working to its advantage since it fell on a Monday, the NBA had to deal with competition from just two NFL games. Last year, the NBA had a full day of NFL games on Christmas that split viewers.