TNT Nets Record NBA Xmas Telecast with Bulls-Lakers

Nielsen families placed gifts under TNT's viewing tree, as the network scored the most-viewed game and primetime doubleheader on Christmas in cable history.

Viewers were also attuned to the trio of games that aired on The Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC and ESPN, each of which scored gains over the 2013 holiday.

Event without the NBA's version of Father Christmas, Kobe Bryant, TNT averaged a 2.0 rating and 3.9 million viewers with its coverage of Derek Rose (pictured) and the Chicago Bulls' 113-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers to rank as the highest-rated and most-viewed primetime cable game ever on Christmas, according to Nielsen data. 

The telecast, which likely would have scored bigger numbers if the Lakers star would have extended his record Christmas appearance run to 16 consecutive yuletides,  peaked with 4.2 million total viewers in the 10 p.m. half hour.

The nightcap --  the Los Angeles Clippers surged past the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter -- averaged a 1.7 rating and nearly 3.08 million viewers, gains of 70% and 96%, respectively, over the comparable Christmas telecast on TNT in 2008.  The Warriors-Clippers game peaked with 4.1 million total viewers from 10:45 p.m. -11:15 p.m.

Together, the Thursday night twinbill averaged 3.5 million total viewers to become the most-viewed primetime doubleheader on Christmas in cable television history., while propelling TNT to win the night across all of cable television. 

The doubleheader was up 94% over the 1.8 million watchers in 2008, the last time TNT aired a primetime doubleheader on Jesus' birthday. 

The 2014 Christmas Day doubleheader also generated significant audience advances across all key demos, including a 92% increase in persons and men 18 to 34, as well as 74% amelioration against people 18 to 49.

The holiday NBA fare also played well for Disney's outlets. ABC’s late afternoon/early evening coverage of the Miami Heat's win over old mate LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers posted up a 4.7 rating from 5  p.m. to 7:50 p.m.. a 12% bounce from Heat-Lakers in the same window last year. ABC's audience averaged 9.3 million viewers, up 19% from 2013.

Earlier on the Alphabet network, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 114-106 win over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in a rematch of the 2014 Western Conference Finals generated a 3.3 rating, 10% higher than the corresponding window on Christmas 2013. That translated into 5.99 million watchers on average -- also a 10% increase.

ESPN tipped off the day’s NBA action at noon with the game between the Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks, which netted a 1.8 rating and 3.05 million viewers, growth of 13% and 9%, respectively,