NBC Nightly News hung on to its total-viewer winning streak for the first official week of Brian Williams’ suspension. The NBC newscast also maintained its lead in the news demo – but in both metrics its lead narrowed considerably, week-to-week.
With Lester Holt in the anchor chair, Nightly News was No. 1 in both total viewers (9.430 million) and the news demo (2.292 million) for the week of February 9-13. NBC’s newscast won four out of five nights in each metric – and all five nights in the younger 18-49 age bracket. The weekly win marks 282 consecutive weeks at No. 1 in total viewers for the NBC newscast, and six straight weeks in the news demo.
ABC’s World News Tonight clocked 9.032 million viewers – just under 400,000 behind NBC, which is its closest competitive position to NBC in three weeks. In the news demo, the David Muir-anchored newscast clocked 2.242 million viewers – 50,000 viewers behind NBC and its closest competitive position in six weeks. In total viewers the gap between the two programs narrowed by 44% week to week; in the news demo it shrank by 74%.
In the all-important news demo, it was NBC’s 12th win this TV season. ABC has won the evening news demo race nine weeks this season.
One week earlier, Williams likewise had won the ratings race among evening newscasters, in overall audience and in the news demo, even though his Wednesday broadcast included an apology for story fabrication, and his Friday newscast followed NBC’s announcement it was looking into whether he’d made up or greatly inflated his role in other major news events. For that final week of Williams in the anchor chair – at least for the next six months – Nightly News averaged 10.2 million viewers, besting ABC’s Muir by 717,000 viewers, and CBS’ Scott Pelley by 2.3 million. It had been Williams’ widest advantage over Muir in four weeks, and over Pelley since Thanksgiving week. Williams averaged more than 10 million viewers on four nights that week.
In the news demo, Williams averaged 2.535 million 25-54-year-old viewers that week -– 8% (189,000 viewers) higher than Muir and 40% (720,000 viewers) ahead of Pelley that week. It was Williams’ third biggest demo delivery this season.
Two weeks later, this week is not starting well for NBC’s newscast. On Monday, President’s Day, World News Tonight beat Nightly News in total viewers, according to early stats. The previous Monday, when Lester Holt was “filling in” for Williams, who had not yet been officially suspended, ABC came in behind NBC in total viewers, in fast stats.
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.