TV Ratings: LeBron James and 'The Grinch' Propel ABC's Christmas

The broadcast network's NBA coverage and annual airing of the classic cartoon give it an easy Thursday win
Courtesy Everett Collection
'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

The NBA was a gift to ABC on Christmas night. Airing the Cleveland-Miami game in the early evening, marking LeBron James' first return to the American Airlines Arena since he left the Heat, the broadcast network saw a 12 percent boost from last year's big holiday game.

See More TV's Classic Christmas Episodes

According to overnight ratings, the game averaged a 5.5 in households — with the Miami victory giving that market a massive 17.2 rating, its highest local showing ever for a regular-season game.

The boost did not stop with the end of the game. ABC's NBA coverage crept into primetime, giving a handsome lift to its annual showing of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The classic cartoon jumped 58 percent in the key demo of adults 18-49, averaging a 1.9 rating. It also brought in nearly 6 million viewers. That was likely helped by coverage from Miami wrapping exactly at 8 p.m. ET.

Other vintage fare proved a draw on Christmas Eve. Wednesday's annual NBC broadcast of It's a Wonderful Life fetched a 1.2 rating in the key demo, steady with last year, while CBS was even with its I Love Lucy Christmas special (0.7 adults).