Boosted by the much ballyhooed matchup of the Miami Heat visiting the Los Angeles Lakers, ABC and ESPN netted their highest cumulative NBA average on Christmas Day over five games.
The contest -- which tipped off at 5 p.m. (ET) on ABC and showcased the new-look Heat, featuring LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Dwayne Wade, who combined to trounce the two-time defending champion Lakers -- averaged a 6.4 national rating, the network's highest rating for an ABC regular-season game since Christmas 2004 (a 7.3 for Heat-Lakers). Saturday's contest topped the 4.4 rating for last season's Christmas contest in the window, Lakers-Cleveland Cavaliers, by 45%, according to Nielsen.
Posting a 4.6 national rating with the Orlando Magic ending the Boston Celtics 14-game winning streak in the 2:30 p.m. window, ABC averaged a 5.5 mark for its doubleheader. This year's Magic-Celtics contest outperformed the same teams' matchup on Christmas 2009, which scored a 3.3 average, by 39%.
On cable, ESPN notched a 1.8 (national) ratings averaged for a trio of games. In the opener at noon, New York Knicks-Chicago Bulls was up 42% to a 2.7 fast national rating from Miami-New York in 2009. Tipping at 8 p.m., Oklahoma City-Denver delivered a 1.4, up 27% over the LA Clippers-Phoenix contest last year, while Portland-Golden State in the nightcap pulled a 1.3 ratings average, equaling Denver-Portland, in the late window a year ago.
Gauged on a local level, Heat-Lakers garnered a 15.5 metered market in the Miami DMA, ABC's highest-rated regular-season game ever in that DMA. In Los Angeles, the game earned a 15.0 rating, ABC's highest-rated NBA regular- season contest locally since a 17.0 for Miami/L.A. in 2004.
In Boston, Celtics-Magic netted an 11.5 metered market rating, the top local point in the nation, with the game delivering an 8.0 rating in Orlando, ABC's highest-rated NBA regular-season game ever in that DMA.
Locally, Bulls-Knicks recorded a 4.2 metered market rating in Chicago and a 2.7 in New York. In Oklahoma City, Thunder-Nuggets pulled a 4.1 metered market rating and a 1.8 in the Denver DMA.
As for the Christmas finale, Blazers-Warriors dunked a 3.0 metered market rating in Portland, the nation's top market for the contest, and a 1.7 in San Francisco.