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ABC, ESPN Celebrate Christmas With Record Numbers for NBA Action TVWeek

ABC Sports and ESPN had a big turnout for their combined five NBA games on Christmas Day, the networks announced. ABC’s Knicks-Lakers game at 3 p.m. delivered a 5.9 overnight rating, the best-ever number for the network for the early window of a Christmas Day doubleheader, based on overnight numbers.

ESPN had its highest-rated tripleheader ever, with a 2.1 average, improving 17% on the 1.8 for the coverage in 2010. The 2011 schedule was impacted by a labor situation, with the NBA season tipping off on Christmas Day.

The Knicks-Lakers game was up 11% from the Celtics-Magic game in 2010, which delivered a 5.3 in the same window.

ABC’s Thunder-Heat game delivered a 6.0, making it the fourth-highest-rated NBA regular season game ever on the network.

ESPN’s Nuggets-Clippers game scored a 2.0, up 54% from the Trail Blazers-Warriors in 2010, and the second-highest-rated Christmas Day prime-time game ever on ESPN.

ESPN’s Rockets-Bulls game had a 1.7 average, up 21% from the Nuggets-Thunder game in 2010, while the Celtics-Nets generated a 2.7, equaling the Bulls-Knicks game in 2010.