The NBA returned Sunday to play its first games after ending the lockout, and delivered with ratings presents for TNT, ABC, and ESPN. TNT’s noon tip-off between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks averaged 5.9 million viewers and became the highest-rated Christmas Day NBA cable telecast ever. (It stands as TNT’s fourth most-watched regular season game.)
A quadrupleheader across ABC and ESPN also scored some of the highest regular-season audiences ever, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. ABC’s 2:30 p.m. ET tip-off between Miami and Dallas delivered a 5.6 overnight rating, making it the highest Christmas Day game at that hour on ABC since 2004. The 5:30 p.m. ET game between Chicago and the L.A. Lakers nabbed a 6.5 overnight rating, making it ABC’s third highest-rated NBA regular season game ever.
ESPN scored its highest-rated Christmas Day game ever in prime time (2.3 overnight rating) with the L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State at 10:30 p.m. ET.