Lakers/Heat Scores ABC’s Third-Largest Non-Christmas NBA Audience

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ABC entered the NBA All-Star Break on a strong note last weekend.

Sunday’s Lakers/Heat NBA regular season game earned a 4.1 final rating and 6.5 million viewers on ABC, up 58% in ratings and 59% in viewership from Bulls/Celtics last year (2.6, 4.1M), and up 17% and 15%, respectively, from Lakers/Magic in 2011 (3.5, 5.6M).

Excluding Christmas Day games, Lakers/Heat ranks as the third-highest rated and third-most viewed NBA regular season game on broadcast television since ABC began airing games in 2002.

Only Celtics/Lakers in January 2011 (4.3, 7.0M) and Heat/Lakers last March (4.3, 7.0M) drew better numbers. Five of ABC’s seven most-viewed non-Christmas games have taken place since the 2011 NBA owners’ lockout.

Earlier Sunday, Clippers/Knicks earned a 2.1 and 3.3 million viewers — down 38% in ratings and 36% in viewership from Heat/Celtics in 2011 (3.4, 5.2M). There was no comparable game last year.

ABC has averaged a 3.8 rating and 6.5 million viewers for NBA coverage through the All-Star break (six telecasts), down 5% in ratings and viewership from the first half last year (4.0, 6.9M), and even in ratings and down 3% in viewership from the first half two years ago (3.8, 6.7M).

ABC was boosted by a stronger Christmas Day slate last season, as the holiday doubled as NBA Opening Day due to the owners’ lockout.

10 Highest Rated Non-Christmas Regular Season NBA Games on ABC
Since the network reacquired rights in 2002

#
Date
Away
Home
Net
Rating
Viewers (000)
T1 Sun., 1/30/11 Celtics Lakers ABC
4.3
7.0M
T1 Sun., 3/4/12 Heat Lakers ABC
4.3
7.0M
3 Sun., 2/10/13 Lakers Heat ABC
4.1
6.5M
4 Sun., 1/27/13 Thunder Lakers ABC
3.9
6.3M
T5 Sun., 2/8/09 Lakers Cavaliers ABC
3.8
6.1M
T5 Sun., 2/19/12 Mavericks Knicks ABC
3.8
5.9M
T7 Sun., 1/29/12 Bulls Heat ABC
3.5
5.7M
T7 Sun., 1/31/10 Lakers Celtics ABC
3.5
5.7M
T7 Sun., 2/13/11 Lakers Magic ABC
3.5
5.6M
T7 Sun., 4/4/04 Spurs Lakers ABC
3.5
5.1M
T7 Sun., 3/16/03 Spurs Kings ABC
3.5
4.7M

(Last week’s numbers from Sports Business Daily; first-half averages from ESPN)

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