Lakers-Clippers is 2nd most-watched Christmas prime-time game, though overall numbers dipped

Cassandra Negley

The Los Angeles Clippers’ victory against the Los Angeles Lakers was the second most-watched prime-time Christmas Day game in NBA history.

Though overall viewership was down from 2018, it was still close and up from 2017 numbers.

Lakers-Clippers leads Christmas viewership

The prime-time game between the Lakers and Clippers is a potential preview of the Western Conference Finals and it came down to the wire. The Clippers prevailed, 111-106. And the various rating metrics give an indication of what that viewership will look like.

According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, it was the second most-watched Christmas prime-time game in league history with 8.8 million viewers. The game aired on ESPN and ABC.

And it was the highest rating in Los Angeles for a regular season game since 2011.

The number was down 14 percent from the Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors matchup in 2018 that featured LeBron James and against Stephen Curry and Co. That game averaged 10.21 million viewers.

The Lakers-Clippers viewership was an increase of 77 percent from the 2017 game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, per Sports Media Watch. That averaged 4.98 million and was up against ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” which featured the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

It drew similar viewership to the marquee Christmas game between James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and the Warriors in 2017. That drew 8.82 million in an afternoon slot up against the NFL.

For James, it was the least-watched Christmas game since 2013, when 7.83 million watched the Miami Heat vs. Lakers, per Sports Media Watch.

How other Christmas games fared

Viewership was mostly down in 2019 from last season, but still up from 2017. The following are ratings for the other four games, with percent differences from the past two years.

  • Rockets-Warriors (ABC): 6.5 million

    • From 2018: Down 12 percent from Sixers-Celtics (7.35M)

    • From 2017: Up 4 percent from Wizards-Celtics (6.23M)

  • Bucks-Sixers (ABC): 5.5M

    • 2018: Down 8 percent from Rockets-Thunder (5.96M)

    • 2017: Down 38 percent from Cavs-Warriors (8.82M)

  • Celtics-Raptors (ESPN): 3.3M

    • 2018: Up 4 percent from Bucks-Knicks (3.17M)

    • 2017: Down 4 percent from Sixers-Knicks (3.43M)

  • Pelicans-Nuggets (ESPN): 1.7 M

    • 2018: Down 22 percent from Blazers-Jazz (2.19M)

    • 2017:Up 10 percent from Timberwolves-Lakers (1.54M on TNT)

Overall viewership is down for the NBA at this point in the season. Through mid-December they are down more than 15 percent on ESPN and TNT, per the Washington Post.

Commissioner Adam Silver told the Post he wasn’t surprised, nor was he concerned since he said attendance, social media engagement and League Pass viewership is all up.

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard led Christmas Day ratings. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard led Christmas Day ratings. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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