Cavs-Warriors matches highest overnight rating for Christmas afternoon game in 12 years

Sunday’s game between the Cavaliers and Warriors had just about every single thing you’d want from a high-profile NBA event. The first matchup of the season between two teams that competed in a thrilling NBA Finals just six months ago. Two of the three best records in the league this season. Arguably the three best players in the NBA. A close game with a dramatic finish.

According to ESPN, the game generated a 5.9 overnight rating, tying Knicks-Lakers from 2012 as the best rating in the Christmas afternoon time slot in 12 years, since Heat-Lakers in 2004. Per Sports Media Watch, this was up 48 percent from last year’s Bulls-Thunder bout last year and Thunder-Spurs in 2014. Cavs-Warriors drew an 18.4 rating in Cleveland and a 15.1 in San Francisco.

Outside of Cavs-Warriors, which could have pulled a huge rating if it were on at 3 a.m. on CSPAN, the Christmas quintuple-header didn’t get overwhelming viewership.

According to SMW, the noon matchup between the Celtics and Bulls on ESPN drew a 2.4 rating, slightly up from that slot last year and the best rating in the slot since 2012.

Bulls-Spurs, which aired at 5 p.m. on ABC,  got only a 3.4 overnight rating, the worst of any Christmas game on ABC since at least 2007, thanks largely to direct competition from the NFL.

The nighttime double-header on ESPN did poorly as well, with Timberwolves-Thunder getting a 1.0 and Clippers-Lakers a 1.1, per SMW. Again, going up against the NFL did not help the cause.

Alex Putterman

About Alex Putterman

Alex has written for,, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10, VICE Sports and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.