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ABC wins due to NBA clash

The much-anticipated matchup between a pair of former NBA teammates-turned-rivals performed nicely for ABC on Christmas Day, delivering the best numbers for a regular-season contest in nearly seven years.

Despite airing in the middle of the day Saturday (3-5:30 p.m. ET), the pro hoops game between Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Shaquille O’Neal’s Miami Heat produced a potent 8.0 rating/21 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights — more than double last year’s holiday contest between the Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings (3.6/8).

It earned a 17.0/44 in Los Angeles and a 13.7/31 in Miami.

It’s the highest-rated regular-season NBA game since a February 1998 matchup between the Lakers and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls registered an 8.9/19 on NBC — and the best on Christmas Day since at least 1996.

Game would have scored even better had it aired in primetime, as is usual for NBA Christmas contests, but the league didn’t want to go up against NFL action later in the day on CBS and ESPN. The Eye’s Oakland Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs game (5-8:15 p.m. ET) averaged a 9.0/22 in overnights.

On Sunday, CBS scored big with its regional single-header coverage (either the Indianapolis Colts-San Diego Chargers or New England Patriots-New York Jets matchups in most cities). Its 13.9 rating/28 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights reps the net’s best regular-season single-header result since the NFL returned to CBS in 1998.

Fox, which had Sunday’s double-header, averaged a 13.6/27 in the overnights for its national game (Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers to most of the country).

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