The NFL had an enormous ratings day this Christmas, ultimately coming close to all-time records. The NFL had massive success on Christmas day despite being in direct competition with the NBA.
The Fox/NFL Network broadcast of the Green Bay Packers’ win over the Cleveland Browns delivered 28.59 million viewers, trailing only Fox’s Thanksgiving game (37.84 million) this season and marking the most watched Christmas Day broadcast this century, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A primetime game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Arizona Cardinals drew 12.62 million viewers. Only a 2016 Christmas day game generated more viewers for an NFL Network broadcast.
While the NBA had steady numbers for their three ABC broadcasts, the numbers paled in comparison to the NFL’s. A primetime matchup between the L.A. Lakers and Brooklyn Nets averaged 5.75 million viewers, down from 7 million a year ago, when the league was not in competition with the NFL. The Nets-Lakers game was the most-watched NBA contest of the day.
The NBA did see slight viewership increases in two time slots, however. The Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns drew 5.19 million viewers in the late afternoon, up from 4.28 million in the same window a year ago. At 2:30 p.m. ET, the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics averaged 4.93 million, up slightly from 4.79 million last year.
Despite the fact that the NBA features an annual Christmas day slate filled with marquee matchups, the league was no match for the NFL.