Knicks-Celtics set Christmas cable record

What lockout? NBA fans were not only back on Sunday, but back in a bigger bunch.

From 12 to 2 p.m. yesterday, more sports fans were watching the NBA than ever before on TV. Knicks-Celtics, which opened up the 2011-12 season, scored a 3.4 U.S. rating and 5.9 million total viewers (5,860,000 to be exact), the highest amount for a Christmas Day game on cable. It was up 48 percent in ratings and 46 percent in viewership from last year's comparable Christmas game (Chicago at New York = 2.3, 4.0M), and up 100 percent and 121 percent, respectively, from Christmas in 2009 (Miami at New York = 1.7, 2.7M).

Knicks-Celtics ranked as the fourth most-watched during the NBA regular season in cable history. Only three games, all broadcast by TNT, delivered a higher audience for an NBA regular-season game on cable than yesterday's New York-Boston matchup. They include:

  1. Miami at Boston on 10/26/10 (7,348,000 total viewers)

  2. Miami at Cleveland on 12/2/10 (7,096,000 total viewers)

  3. LA Lakers at Chicago on 2/2/96 (7,271,000 total viewers)

Locally, the Knicks-Celtics game delivered a 7.2 U.S. household rating in New York and a 7.8 household rating in Boston.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.