Lamar Jackson takes on the 49ers on Christmas Day. Dec 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles with the football against San Francisco 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown (27) during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Christmas Day ratings numbers proved to be strong for ABC as well as CBS. ESPN announced Tuesday afternoon that their Christmas Day broadcast (8:15 p.m. Eastern, across ABC, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes) was the second-most-watched Monday Night Football game since 1996:

This was up 59 percent from last year’s primetime Christmas game (Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Arizona Cardinals) on NBC. And it was the most-watched game in the MNF package since 1996 apart from that Week 11 Philadelphia Eagles-Kansas City Chiefs contest, which was also carried on ESPN and ESPN2 (this one was not thanks to NBA commitments on those networks). And this was in the top four Christmas Day NFL broadcasts ever across all networks. And it adds to the season-long MNF ratings success (16.6 million viewers on average so far, up 29 percent), although that comes with caveats about simulcasts and doubleheaders.

This also adds to the success for Christmas Day NFL broadcasts this year. CBS announced Tuesday that their Raiders-Chiefs game (the 1 p.m. ET kickoff) averaged 29.2 million viewers across CBS, Nickelodeon, and Paramount+. That’s the most-watched NFL Christmas Day game on any network since 1989. (Of course, that’s helped by increased tracking of out-of-home viewing, which has only been in full effect for the last few years. But the numbers seen with that tracking make these games very desirable for networks.)

And these numbers add to the case for the NFL to continue its recent Christmas Day push. That will be difficult in the next two years with that holiday falling on Wednesday and Thursday, days when the league hasn’t traditionally played on Christmas. But the ratings benefits they’re seeing could possibly prompt them to alter their schedule more. At any rate, the league will likely be doing more Christmas Day games soon, even if not immediately.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.