After a rare tripleheader on ABC-ESPN last Christmas Day, when two games migrated from ESPN to TNT, the Disney networks reverted to their regular slate of five basketball games, with rating up +9% from last year’s three-game average.
The driver was the marquee match-up on ABC between Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, a rematch of the most watched NBA Finals in ABC history. The 5 PM game, headlined by NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, drew a 6.7 overnight rating, up 22% from the corresponding 2014 game between the Cavaliers and Miami Heat, to become the highest-rated Christmas Day NBA game since 2010 and the third-highest-rated NBA regular season game since 1999. The game posted a regular-season records in both the Cleveland (21.2 rating) and San Francisco (16.0) markets and logged 11 million total minutes streamed on WatchESPN.
The earlier, 2:30 PM ABC game between the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, posted a 4.0 overnight rating to match the comparable 2014 game (Thunder-Spurs). Overall, the NBA doubleheader on ABC averaged a 5.5 overnight rating, up 15% from 2014 and the highest-rated ABC doubleheader on Christmas Day since 2012.
ESPN’s tripleheader featured New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat at 12 PM (2.3 overnight rating, up +10% from 2014’s Knicks-Wizards), San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets at 8 PM (2.5) and Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, featuring the 16th and final Christmas Day showing of retiring Lakes superstar Kobe Bryant, at 10:30 PM (2.2).
The NBA on ESPN primetime doubleheader averaged a 2.3 overnight rating, matching 2013 as the highest-rated ChristmasDay primetime doubleheader ever on ESPN. The tripleheader, which also averaged a 2.3 overnight rating, matched 2013 as the highest-rated Christmas Day tripleheader ever on ESPN.