ABC and ESPN did solid ratings business on Christmas Day with a quintet of NBA games, led by the LA Lakers-New York Knicks matchup on ABC. Kicking things off was the Boston Celtics-Brooklyn Nets at 12 PM on ESPN (2.7 overnight rating). That was down from the first Christmas Day game last year between The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks (4.1), but that game aired on TNT and marked the kickoff of the 2011-12 NBA season, which was delayed by a labor dispute. The Celtics-Nets faceoff matched the corresponding 2010 game between Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. At 3 PM, NY Knicks at LA Lakers on ABC (5.9) was up both from last year’s 2:30 PM ABC game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat (5.6) and the 2010 game between Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic in 2010 (5.3). That was ABC’s best overnight ratings delivery ever for a Christmas Day game in the early window of a doubleheader, proving once again that LA Lakers are probably the biggest audience draw in the NBA. The second part of the ABC doubleheader, Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat at 5:30 PM (6.0) was down from last year’s Lakers-Chicago game (6.5 with the LA Lakers factor).
The two primetime games on ESPN were down slightly from last year. At 8 PM, Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls (1.7) was down a tenth from last year’s Orlando-Oklahoma City matchup but up 21% compared to the Denver Nuggets-Oklahoma one in 2010 (1.4). Closing things out at 10:30 PM, Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers (2.0) was down 13% from last year’s Clippers-Golden State game but up 54% compared to Portland Trail Blazers-Golden State faceoff in 2010 (1.3).