ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ Takes May Sweep In Demos, ‘NBC Nightly News’ Wins Week

Photo: ABC

ABC’s World News Tonight won the May sweep in the news demo and in adults 18-49 for the first time in eight years, that network boasted early this morning, citing Nielsen numbers.

NBC issued a blistering response, noting that NBC Nightly News clocked its 31st consecutive sweep win in total viewers, averaging 7.71 million, to best ABC by 35,000 and CBS by 1.08 million.

NBC also pointed out it that it was the No. 1 newscast in total viewers and both demos for the week of May 18-22 and is the No. 1 evening news broadcast for the season to date in total viewers and all key demographics.

CBS News jumped in on the fun, alerting reporters CBS Evening News had added 130,000 viewers compared to the previous TV season, is posting its best season delivery in viewers in nine years, logged its best May sweep delivery in total viewers in nine years, was last week’s only network evening news broadcast to post weekly gains in the news demo, and marked its closest position relative to NBC in viewers in nearly nine years.

Here are some of the details:

For the May ratings derby, ABC won by a comfortable 62,000 news demo viewers – 1.82 million viewers Lester Holt vertical NBC Newsto NBC’s 1.76 million and CBS’s 1.47 mil. In the younger demo, ABC (1.26 million) edged out NBC (1.24 million) by just 15K but more easily beat CBS (1.02 mil). In overall audience, NBC’s 7.71 million was 34K stronger than ABC’s 7.67 mil, though 1.08 million ahead of CBS (6.63 mil). This year’s total-viewer lead is NBC’s smallest in eight years; last May sweep, ABC had trailed NBC by 1.03 million.

ABC also had won the November 2014 sweep – its first such win in 18 years – against Nightly News, when Brian Williams was anchoring.  This May in those key metrics it outstripped NBC with Lester Holt anchoring. NBC Nightly News hung on to its frontrunner status for the February sweep in all key metrics – which was especially big news back then given that, for virtually all of that ratings period, anchor Williams was embroiled in controversy and missing from the program. Holt has filled in for Williams since even before NBC News announced, on February 11, it was suspending Williams for six months without pay. His continued absence, with no announcement as to his future, or lack thereof, at NBC’s news operation, makes today’s May sweep results 20% more interesting.

Complicating the storyline, Nightly averaged 7.59 million total viewers for the week of May 18 – 53,000 viewers ahead of ABC and 696,000 ahead of CBS Evening News. Nightly also averaged 1.76 million news demo viewers last week, leading ABC by 11,000 and CBS by 218,000.

And, season to date, Nightly is averaging 8.94 million total viewers, which puts it 387,000 ahead of ABC and 1.73 million ahead of CBS. NBC’s newscast is averaging 2.12 million news-demo viewers. That’s a slim 4,000-viewer edge over ABC and 420,000 ahead of CBS.

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