NBA Season Starts Mostly Higher In Ratings

After a long labor dispute-triggered delay, the NBA season got under way on Christmas Day with 4 televised games on ABC and ESPN and another one on TNT.

The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks on TNT delivered the highest-ever rated Christmas Day NBA game, scoring a 4.1 rating with 5.9 million viewers. Reigning champions the Dallas Mavericks opened the ABC-ESPN quadrupleheader at 2:30 PM ET against the Miami Heat. The game drew a 5.6 overnight rating, up 6% from the comparable 2010 Boston/Orlando game. Despite failed recruitment efforts, the loss of Lamar Odom to Dallas, a new coach and a worrisome Kobe Bryant injury, the LA Lakers proved they are still a marquee viewer draw. The Lakers-Chicago game at 5:30 PM ET posted a 6.5 overnight rating. That was down 11% from last year’s Lakers-Miami face-off but still ranked as the third highest-rated NBA regular season game behind 2 other showdowns featuring the Lakers and the Heat, in 2004 and last year.

The two primetime ESPN games were sharply up from last year. Orlando-Oklahoma City (1.9) at 8 PM was up 36% from last year’s Denver-Oklahoma game. The much improved LA Clippers faced Golden State at 10:30 PM for a 2.3 rating, up a whopping 77% over last year’s Portland-Golden State game.

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