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In TV ratings, there’s good news as Nets-Lakers draw 5.75 million viewers, YES numbers jump

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets, without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Joe Harris, played on national television Christmas Day and came away with a big win over the Lakers at the newly minted Center ... and a big audience nationally. A total of 5.75 million basketball fans watched on ABC, the most of any of the five holiday games Saturday, per Nielsen, the ratings service. The numbers were down from the last two years of Christmas viewing, what with COVID ravaging NBA rosters and the cross-scheduling of games vs. the NFL.

From Sports Media Watch Wednesday...

As one would expect, the NFL dominated the NBA’s five-game Christmas slate. Facing Colts-Cardinals, Nets-Lakers was the top NBA draw with a 2.4 and 5.75 million on ESPN and ABC — down 19% in ratings and 18% in viewership from Mavericks-Lakers last year (3.0, 7.01M) and 47% and 34% respectively from Clippers-Lakers in 2019 (4.6, 8.76M), neither of which faced the NFL.

Brooklyn’s win marked the least-watched primetime NBA Christmas game since Rockets-Thunder on ABC alone in ’17 (4.98M), not coincidentally the last such window to face the NFL.

That said, the game was the most watched of the season and is likely to remain so until the playoffs ... and probably deep in the playoffs. (Let me repeat that: a Nets game is the most viewed game of the season.)

Here’s the national holiday numbers for all sports, also per Sports Media Watch...

Meanwhile, there’s good numbers locally as well, as YES Network tweeted out Monday.

This after YES had the biggest increase in local viewership last season, jumping by 70 percent.

Taking the longer view, the rise in YES numbers is even more extraordinary. In 2016-17, the first year of Sean Marks rebuild, the Nets drew only about 25,000 viewers on average per game for the 20-win A year later, things weren’t much better with an average of 27,000 for a 28-win team. So, the Nets ratings have basically tripled over the past five years.

In the local rivalry, the Knicks are still head and shoulders above the Nets, but the early surge in MSG ratings has subsided while the YES ratings have jumped ... for the obvious reasons. Nationally, the Nets have attracted four of the 10 most-watched national TV audiences so far this season: vs. the Lakers on Christmas Day, vs the Warriors at Barclays on November 16, vs. the Bucks in Milwaukee on Opening Night, October 19, and vs. the Sixers in Philadelphia on October 22.