The NBA‘s five-game Christmas Day marathon on ABC and ESPN was a mixed bag this year, with strong results on ESPN and soft numbers on ABC. The tripleheader on ESPN posted an all-time high for a second consecutive year: It averaged a 2.3 overnight rating, up 10% from 2012. ESPN’s coverage started slower, with the Chicago Bulls-Brooklyn Nets game at 12 PM logging a 2.3 rating, down 15% from last year’s Boston Celtics-Nets matchup. But it picked up speed later in the day with the primetime doubleheader averaging a 2.3 rating — up 21% from last year and the highest-rated NBA Christmas Day primetime doubleheader ever. It was led by the Houston Rockets-San Antonio Spurs game, which scored a 2.4 rating at 8 PM, an all-time best for an NBA Christmas Day primetime game and up 41% from last Christmas’ 8 PM game between the Rockets and Chicago Bulls. The 10:30 face-off between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors (2.3) was up 15% from last year’s Denver Nuggets-Clippers game.
When the NBA TV schedule was set in the summer, nobody could’ve predicted that both Christmas Day games on ABC would be missing two of the league’s biggest stars. With the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and the LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant sidelined with injuries, ratings for ABC’s coverage — which featured the same four teams as last year — took a tumble. The early afternoon game, Oklahoma City’s lopsided victory over the Knicks, posted a 3.7, down 37% from last year’s Lakers-Knicks matchup. The second game, in which the Heat defeated the Bryant-less Lakers, drew a 4.9 rating, down 18% from last year’s Thunder-Miami Heat matchup. It was the lowest rated early game in four years, since 2009, and the lowest rated second game in six, since 2007.
Despite a lower-than-usual Christmas primetime lead-in from basketball, ABC still finished No. 1 for the night in adults 18-49, paced by The Middle and Modern Family repeats, which logged the highest 18-49 rating of the night, a 1.3. CBS aired an I Love Lucy special, which managed a 0.6. Once rock-solid Fox comedy Raising Hope had a rough going, with one of its back-to-back reruns logging a 0.2 in 18-49, the lowest result in primetime last night. (Raising Hope‘s other episode tied as the second-lowest-rated program with a 0.4.)