At Christmas, the average viewership of the NFL is five times greater than that of the NBA

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NFL vs. NBA was TKO by XMA(s).

On Dec. 25, the league pitted three games against five-game, full-day NBA action for the first time in pro football’s biggest muscle test. The spectator holds an oval ball and observes the game.

The widely distributed numbers paint a very clear picture.

Packers-Dolphins: 25.92 million viewers. (This is the only game of the day between a pair of playoff contenders.)

Broncos-Rams: 22.57 million viewers. (Both teams were eliminated from the postseason, and the Rams won 51-14.)

Buccaneers-Cardinals: 17.15 million viewers. (The Cardinals were starting a third-string quarterback in a game between two teams below .500.)

76ers-Knicks: 4.04 million viewers.

Lakers-Mavericks: 4.33 million viewers.

Bucks-Celtics: 6.03 million viewers.

Grizzlies-Warriors: 4.70 million viewers.

Suns-Nugges: 2.49 million viewers.

That’s 21.88 million for the NBA average, and 4.318 million for the NBA. The NFL draws more than five times the viewership of the NBA.

And remember – NBA games aren’t televised exclusively on ESPN. ABC impersonating each in an apparent effort to boost ratings.

What does this mean for the NFL and Nielsen’s future ratings? No matter what day of the week you’re on, look to the NFL for a way to fill your day.

In 2023, it will be easier. Play full games on Sunday, December 24 and play three on Monday, December 25.

In 2024, it will be a little more complicated. Thanks to a leap year, Christmas falls on Wednesday. How does the NFL manage its schedule to put games on Wednesday? The best (perhaps the only) option is to give the six Christmas groups the first Sunday off, which is a very late weekend off – but basically two half-days, 10 days off and then 11 days off.

In the year In 2025, on Christmas Thursday, just like Thanksgiving. In 2026, Friday. In 2027, Saturday. In 2028, Monday.

Given the NFL’s performance with a captive Christmas audience, look for the NFL to find a way to steal Christmas away from the NBA.

And imagine how much bigger the NFL numbers would be if the game was more entertaining than this year’s trio.

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