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

How Grinch Stole Christmas Animation - H 2011
Courtesy Everett Collection

How Grinch Stole Christmas Animation - H 2011

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.

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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).