While the media continues to autopsy Brian Williams’ career — new questions about claims he flew into Baghdad with Seal Team 6, was at the Brandenburg Gate the night the Berlin Wall came down, etc — viewers have been weighing in on NBC’s suspension of Williams.
They don’t like it.
NBC Nightly News took a double-digit tumble in its first broadcast with Brian Williams name officially stripped from the broadcast, a.k.a Wednesday, according to fast affiliate time period stats issued by Nielsen.
ABC’s World News Tonight beat NBC Nightly News by 347,000 viewers on Wednesday. The previous Wednesday ABC’s newscast lost to NBC’s by nearly 400,000 viewers in fast affiliate time period stats (apples to apples). Likewise, two weeks earlier, ABC’s newscast had trailed Williams by more than 600,000 on Wednesday night in the early numbers.
In the news demo, this past Wednesday ABC beat NBC by 109,000 viewers, the early stats show. The previous Wednesday it had trailed Williams by nearly half a million viewers in the demo. Two weeks ago ABC trailed NBC by about 300,000.
This past Thursday night – the second nightly broadcast under Williams’ six-month suspension (which many industry navel-lint gazers believe to be permanent) — Nightly News delivered its lowest numbers of the week in total viewers – 8.570 compared to Monday’s 9.802 mil. Nightly also clocked its lowest number of the week in the news demo – 2.128 million versus Monday’s 2.489 mil. Meanwhile, ABC’s World News Tonight clocked its largest lead of the week in both metrics and trailed Nightly by the smallest margin in adults 18-49. CBS Evening News also scored its biggest number of the week in all three measures on Thursday night, sadly probably owing in part to word legendary newsman Bob Simon had died the previous night in a car accident and the expectation the network’s evening newscast would address his death and pay tribute to his legacy. That boost meant CBS’ newscast trailed NBC’s by particularly small margins.
These numbers are all early stats; final stats for this week will be available next week. But the early numbers seem to support the strong sentiment on Facebook, in which viewers are saying they won’t watch until Williams is brought back.
But, as NBCU continues to look into claims made by Williams over the years and weigh his future, or lack thereof, with the company, the evening newscast’s numbers also will be closely monitored. Nightly News clocks about $200 mil per year in ad revenue, Kantar Media reports.