NBA Christmas Day Slate Draws Lowest Ratings Since Game Expansion

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I pointed out last week how the NBA had lost its place as a Christmas Day tradition. For years, the NBA was the default television option at your annual Christmas Day gathering — once you finished A Christmas Story. Now, the NBA’s Christmas slate is an afterthought — somewhere behind Bad Santa.

This year, the NBA’s five-game Christmas slate on ABC/ESPN drew 4.1 million viewers, the lowest since the NBA expanded to five Christmas games in 2008.

The NBA’s ratings have experienced a steep decline since 2017 by recording record lows in the Finals. Currently, NBA games struggle to draw as many viewers as low-level college football bowl games. Have you ever heard of the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl? Well, it attracts more viewers than the NBA, I guess.

Interestingly, the NBA’s decline began not long after ESPN said the NBA was on track to surpass the NFL’s popularity in 2018. That was a lie. What’s more, the NFL is a big reason why the NBA has fallen so far

The NFL increased its presence on Christmas Day a few seasons ago. As a result, it has slaughtered the NBA’s market share.

The Packers-Browns game on Christmas Day Saturday drew 28.6 million viewers on Fox/NFL Network. Meanwhile, the highest-rated NBA game, Warriors-Suns, drew 5 million viewers on ABC. Warriors-Suns tied the Colts-Cardinals on NFL Network, a channel that airs in far fewer homes.

Christmas Day is not the only day of the year the NFL has taken from the NBA. Earlier this season, the NBA left its signature Thursday night time slot on TNT after realizing Thursday Night Football had drained its viewers. So the NBA ended up moving its TNT games to Tuesday to claw back viewers.

You have to wonder if the NBA will similarly tweak its Christmas schedule to avoid the NFL. The NBA may have to move its primary two Christmas matchups out of the afternoon and into the noon and late-night time slots to avoid head-to-head competition from the NFL.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. I am enjoying watching Mr. James ruin the National Basketball Association. I used to enjoy NBA games, UNTIL they became a company that demands that every American agree that every WHITE person is a racist.

    Mr. James also doesn’t care about the human rights of slave laborers who construct the items that make him millions of dollars.

    Mr. James’ is an arrogant narcissist.

  2. I love the idea of having basketball and football on Christmas day. The more the merrier. The only people complaining are probably geeks,Very Fine People and nerds who are complaining and/or triggered. It’s all family part of the tree. #ForThePeople #NotReplacedJustBetter

  3. Face it the NBA is boring. The social justice warrior aspect is a reason the ratings are declining but not “the” reason. The quality of play is poor that’s the biggest reason people have tuned out. Also, younger generations don’t have the attention span to sit and watch an entire game, especially on TV. Live sure, because that’s an experience to put on the Gram, but on TV good luck. Younger fans of all sports leagues love hightlights but not the full games as much.

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