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Thursday, Sep 29, 2022
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Kobe-Shaq Matchup Boosts ABC Ratings

The Christmas Day Lakers/Miami Heat matchup that reunited former teammates Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the same court, gave ABC the highest ratings for a regular-season NBA game since 1998.


The Shaq-Kobe face-off drew 8 percent of viewers in the 56 largest media markets, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc., nearly twice the audience last year’s Christmas game between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets. The previous high was the Lakers/Chicago Bulls in 1998, which also drew 8 percent of viewers in the big-city markets. Together, the largest markets account for about 70 percent of the 109.6 million households in the U.S. with televisions.


David Carter, principal of the Sports Business Group in Los Angeles, called the game one of the most hyped in NBA history.


“The tremendous amount of marketing and promotion of the game by the league generated its own media buzz and it became a news story itself,” Carter said. “And it was the personalities, it was two large-sized markets, it was on Christmas Day. But the game itself was a compelling match; it lived up to its billing, which is a real rarity in sports.”


The Lakers, who traded Shaq to the Heat for three forwards in July, were edged out 104-102 in overtime, despite Bryant’s season-high 42-point game. The game was another feather in the cap of Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC, which has a $2.4 billion, six-year contract to broadcast NBA games not shown on KCAL-TV (9), which has a contract to broadcast most Lakers games.

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