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NBA Christmas Day television ratings down from post-lockout tip-off, up from two years ago

Dec 26, 2012, 12:59 PM EDT

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Last year, following an ugly lockout, the NBA returned to action on Christmas Day with its first games being the best matchups shown on national television. Fans said “what lockout?” and watched in record numbers.

This Christmas, with one-third of the NBA season gone? Numbers were down slightly over last year but up from a couple of years ago.

The highest rated game was Thunder at Heat, which got a 6.0 nationally and that makes it the fourth-highest rated regular season game ever on ABC. Last year the Bulls and Lakers drew a 6.5 rating in that same spot, which was down over the Lakers and the Heat from the year before.

The big surprise this season was the Knicks and Lakers drawing a 5.9 rating with the early game on ABC — the highest rating ever in that slot for ABC on Christmas Day. It beat the 5.6 that Miami and Dallas had in a finals rematch.

The other games on ESPN were all up from two years ago, but down from last year when there was a “the season is starting buzz.” The early game of the Celtics wiping the floor with the Nets drew a 2.7 rating, which tied 2010. The Rockets running past the Bulls drew a 1.7 ratings, up 21 percent from two years ago. The Clippers dunk fest on the Nuggets drew a 2.0 rating, up 54 percent form two years ago (when the game was Blazers and Warriors).

If you are saying to yourself “The NBA should start every season on Christmas Day” I would say fine. As soon as you convince the owners that they don’t need the revenue from the first quarter of the season — because you already convinced the players to take a 25 percent pay cut to make it work — then you can come talk to me.

  1. buffalowned - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    just proves that the season is too long and starts too early. when the heat admit that they’re bored and don’t play as hard in certain games you know something is wrong. but david stern wouldn’t dare reduce the schedule and lose money for a more exciting regular season

  2. unxpexted1 - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Season should start on Christmas every year.

  3. dannymac17 - Dec 26, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Don’t say the season should start on Xmas, itll just give Laker fans more fuel “Well the season doesnt start till april anyway”

  4. hoodheisman - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Not surprising that the Laker game was the only game that drew higher ratings than last year considering the circumstances. As much as I had wanted to see a Lakers-Heat Xmas primetime matchup, the NBA got what it wanted and maximized its ratings by splitting those 2 teams up.

  5. cosanostra71 - Dec 26, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Lakers game was the only one I watched and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

  6. ndnut - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    What if it started on Christmas Day and ended right around Independence Day?

  7. maxpower80203 - Dec 27, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    I’m fine with the NBA keeping the Christmas tradition alive and well since that’s when teams start to take the regular season more seriously. I’m not too surprised that the Knicks and Lakers game drew so much attention with Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant facing off against each other. My DISH coworkers were interested to see how two of the most prolific scorers would do in that game. I missed it since I was heading home from visiting family, and will catch up with the matchup this weekend since I set a recording for it through my DISH Hopper GameFinder app. I like to watch NBA games that I miss on the weekends when I have more time for TV, and I set a recording for all the Christmas games with one push of a button.

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