NBC News no longer will be able to factor those wee-hour re-runs of its Nightly News into the broadcast ratings, after media buyers asked the network to stop running their clients’ ads in those rebroadcasts. Starting today, those re-broadcasts on Gannett stations would not include national ads. Lacking national spots, Nielsen does not rate the broadcasts, which cannot then be merged into the franchise’s ratings.
We’re imagining the happy dance being performed over at ABC News which, two weeks ago, had been all set to celebrate finally breaking Nightly News’ 285 consecutive week total-viewer winning streak, only to have its party canceled when NBC’s final stats dropped with those additional viewers factored in. Surprised by the additional eyeballs, ABC fell behind NBC by 11,000 viewers and had to scrub a ready-to-go news release announcing its victory.
The next week, ABC dashed off the following note in its weekly evening news ratings release, like it meant it to sting:
NOTE: *NBC’s stated averages now include both its 6:30 p.m. E.T. airings and re-broadcasts on some stations between the hours of 2-4 a.m. E.T. NBC News has not publicly stated the markets in which the re-airs occur nor how many additional viewers they are claiming as a result.
ABC News and NBC News have been in a very tight evening news ratings race, and all eyes have been on Nightly News to see how the numbers would hold up with Brian Williams suspended and Lester Holt filling in since early February. NBC yanked Williams in February for six months, as it investigates questions about his versions of news events reported by the news division.
NBC News has, since word of its late-night repeats first broke, insisted in a statement: “Like any forward-looking media organization, we have been focused on ways to reach our audience when and how they want to be reached,” adding, “Over the last year we have launched NBC Nightly News on VOD and SiriusXM, and we have made the broadcast available at later airings in some markets. We believed there would be an appetite for NBC Nightly News in addition to its regular time slot, and that has proven to be true: the viewer response has been overwhelmingly positive.”