NBC Nightly News hung on to its frontrunner status for the February sweep ratings derby in all key metrics. This is news because, for virtually all of the sweep period, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was embroiled in controversy and missing from the program. Lester Holt has filled in for Williams since even before NBC News announced, on February 11, it was suspending Williams for six months without pay.
For the sweep, Nightly finished first among total viewers (9.839 million), in the news demo (2.459 million) and among 18-49 year olds (1.745 million). This brings to 30 consecutive sweeps the number of Nightly wins in overall audience. In the news demo, the NBC newscast has finished first for six consecutive February sweep periods, and its also has been No. 1 in the younger demo for for 30 consecutive sweeps.
But, this just wrapped February sweep was ABC’s World News Tonight’s most watched in eight years; the David Muir anchored newscast delivered its closest February sweep performance relative to NBC in seven years (NBC’s newscast enjoyed a Sochi Olympics bump last February). ABC’s gains come on the heels of its first November sweep win in the news demo in 18 years. For February, World News Tonight averaged 9.452 million viewers, 2.401 million in the news demo, and 1.606 million in the younger age bracket.
CBS Evening News clocked 8,016,000 viewers, of whom 1.901 million were in the news demo, and 1.267 million were aged 18-49.
Williams was suspended without pay on February 11 after soldiers questioned Williams’ on-air report about his experience in a helicopter attack while embedded as an NBC News anchor during the early days of the Iraq. During his suspension, NBC News said it would continue to investigate other Williams claims, including observations he made while covering Hurricane Katrina for NBC News.