SPORTS WRAP Unwrapping NBA Christmas Day Ratings

SPORTS WRAP Unwrapping NBA Christmas Day Ratings

NBA fans will have quite a few presents to unwrap on Christmas Day, with none bigger than the Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers matchup on ABC. The teams square off for the first time since last year’s NBA Finals. When the Celtics defeated the Lakers for their 17th championship in June, the series received an average of 14.9 million viewers, the most for the NBA Finals in five years.

Since ABC obtained NBA broadcasting rights in 2002, the network’s Christmas Day games have averaged a 4.1 rating and 6.9 million viewers nationally. The highest mark came in 2004 when the Lakers and Heat (featuring a much-anticipated reunion between Kobe and Shaq) pulled a 7.3 rating and 13.2 million viewers.

Year Matchup Household


Viewers P2+
2007 PHOENIX AT LA LAKERS 3.5 5,985,000
2006 LA LAKERS AT MIAMI 3.5 5,464,000
2006 MIAMI AT CLEVELAND 3.1 5,020,000
2005 SAN ANTONIO AT DETROIT 3.9 6,011,000
2005 L.A. LAKERS AT MIAMI 4.8 8,063,000
2004 MIAMI AT L.A. LAKERS 7.3 13,182,000
2003 DALLAS AT SACRAMENTO 3.1 5,030,000
2003 HOUSTON AT L.A. LAKERS 4.1 7,187,000
2002 BOSTON AT NEW JERSEY 2.5 3,957,000
2002 SACRAMENTO AT LOS ANGELES 4.5 7,484,000
© 2008 The Nielsen Company

The San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns officially tip off ABC’s broadcast season at 2:40pm ET Christmas Day.  Last year, the NBA on ABC averaged a 2.2 national rating, up 10% from 06-07.

Aside from the two ABC games, the NBA offers a few Christmas stocking stuffers, with the Hornets-Magic at noon on ESPN and two nightcaps (Wizards-Cavs and Mavs-Blazers) on TNT. The NBA’s cable ratings remain steady through the first two months of the season after ESPN and TNT boasted 20% and 10% increases in viewership last year, respectively.