ABC’s Christmas Day NBA Doubleheader Up 45% (UPDATED)

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Boosted by the much-hyped Heat/Lakers game, ABC scored some impressive numbers for Saturday’s Christmas Day NBA doubleheader.

ABC earned a 6.4 rating and 13.059 million viewers for Miami’s 96-80 win over the Lakers Saturday evening, according to Nielsen fast-nationals, up 45% in ratings and 57% in viewership from last year (CLE/LAL: 4.4, 8.316 mil), and up 21% and 31%, respectively, from 2008 (BOS/LAL: 5.3).

This marks the highest rated, most-viewed regular season NBA game in exactly six years — since Heat/Lakers on Christmas Day 2004 (7.3, 13.182 mil).

Additionally, the 6.4 is tied as the third-highest rating for any NBA regular season game dating back to the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. Only the aforementioned ’04 Heat/Lakers game and Rockets/Lakers in February ’99 (7.0) drew better numbers.

This is only the fifth time post-lockout that an NBA regular season game has drawn at least 6% of U.S. television households.

In Miami, Heat/Lakers drew a 15.5 rating, the highest ever for a regular season NBA game on ABC in the market. In Los Angeles, the game drew a 15.0, the highest since the ’04 Heat/Lakers game (17.0).

ABC also drew strong numbers for Celtics/Magic earlier in the day.

Orlando’s victory over the Celtics drew a 4.6 rating and 8.657 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast-nationals, up 39% in ratings and 48% in viewership from last year’s matchup between the same teams (BOS/ORL: 3.3, 5.855 mil), and up 44% and 50%, respectively, from 2008 (SAS/PHX: 3.2, 5.757 mil).

Celtics/Magic, this year’s undercard, drew a higher rating and more viewers than last year’s featured Cavaliers/Lakers game (4.4, 8.316 mil).

The game drew an 11.5 rating in Boston and an 8.0 in Orlando. The latter was a record in the market.

Overall, ABC averaged a 5.5 fast-national rating for its Christmas Day doubleheader, up 45% from last year (3.8), and the network’s highest rated Christmas Day doubleheader ever. Keep in mind ABC aired only one game on Christmas Day in 2004 and 2006.

Highest Rated NBA Regular Season Games Dating Back to 1998-99 Season

UPDATED 12/28/10: Viewership added for ABC’s games.

(Ratings from ESPN, viewership from Sports Business Daily)

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