The NBA kicked off the 2011-12 NBA regular season in triumphant fashion on Christmas Day as the league’s most prominent teams brought in viewers in record-breaking droves.
Leading the way for the association was its marquee showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls, which pulled in a 6.5 overnight rating. Both teams didn’t disappoint when it came to excitement, with the game ultimately coming down to the final few seconds and last-ditch efforts at game-winners by two former league MVPs in Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant. All in all, L.A. versus Chicago pulled the third-highest preliminary rating for a regular season ABC match-up.
The earlier ABC game, a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, brought in a 5.6 overnight rating. Despite the fact that the game was a Miami rout from the very beginning, the end result still proved to be captivating enough to bring a six percent-greater audience than the one that watched the Boston Celtics square off against the Orlando Magic last year.
Meanwhile, the thrilling first game of the day between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics pulled in a 4.1 overnight rating for TNT. For comparison’s sake, the morning game between Chicago and New York one year earlier on ESPN drew only a 2.7 rating.
The Oklahoma City Thunder versus Orlando outing on ESPN that came after Lakers-Bulls pulled in a better-than-expected 1.6 rating. Both Oklahoma City and Orlando aren’t two of the more high profile teams in the association and this battle came after about seven and a half hours of non-stop basketball, but it still pulled in a higher rating than the match-up that aired in the same time slot on year prior between the Denver Nuggets and the Thunder.
And, finally, the Los Angeles Clippers’ dismantlement of the Golden State Warriors earned a 2.3 overnight rating – good enough to be dubbed ESPN’s highest rated Christmas primetime game.
(Kudos to Sports Illustrated for gathering the ratings information.)