Evening News Ratings: Q1 2017 & Week of March 20

By Chris Ariens Comment

The viewer drop-off across the three network evening newscasts continues.

In the just-completed first quarter of 2017, the shows lost more than a million viewers, combined. This may speak to the interest in the daily coverage of last year’s presidential primaries vs. this year’s coverage of the start of the Trump administration. But that may only be part of the story.

All three newscasts were also down in Q1 2016 when compared to Q1 2015. Only Pelley’s newscast saw an uptick in the demo, up less than 1 percent.

Compared to the first quarter of 2016 NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt is down -4 percent in viewers and down -6 percent in the A25-54 demo; ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir is down -2 percent in viewers and down -7 percent in the demo; the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley saw the biggest drops: down -6 percent in viewers and down -13 percent in the A25-54 demo. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, Pelley has been the most aggressive when it comes to reporting on the Trump administration. “Far more than his competitors — Lester Holt on NBC and David Muir on ABC — Pelley is using words and approaches that pull no punches,” media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote.

NBC Nightly News wins the quarter–for the 18th straight year–as well as the week in both total viewers and the demo. ABC narrowed the gap with NBC in both viewers (-80 percent) and the demo (-1 percent), making this the closest Q1 performance with NBC in 18 years.

Numbers for Q1 2017:

NBC ABC CBS
• Total Viewers: 8,883,000 8,850,000 7,245,000
• A25-54: 2,138,000 1,927,000 1,609,000

For the week of March 20, Pelley also saw the steepest overall drop: down -10 percent in viewers and down -15 percent in the demo compared to the same week last year. Nightly News was down -8 percent and down -9 percent, respectively, while World News Tonight was down -5 percent in viewers and down -11 percent in the demo.

Numbers for the week of March 20, 2017:

NBC ABC CBS
• Total Viewers: 7,999,000 7,755,000 6,363,000
• A25-54: 1,898,000 1,611,000 1,387,000

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