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Oct. 18 Sunday Show Ratings: Face the Nation Captures First Place

By A.J. Katz Comment

CBS’ Face the Nation has captured rare back-to-back first-place finishes in the Sunday show ratings race, both in total viewers and among adults 25-54 category.

Moderated by Margaret Brennan, CBS’ Sunday political program averaged 749,000 viewers from the advertiser-friendly demo and 3.74 million total viewers, the latter being far more than the competition.

NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd finished outside of first place, both in total viewers (3.4 million) and adults 25-54 (719,000) for the second consecutive week. Nevertheless, MTP remains the No. 1 Sunday show in 2020-2021 to date, and has finished No. 1 in both of the aforementioned categories for four consecutive seasons.

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos took third place in both of the aforementioned measurements (3 million total viewers and 618,000 adults 25-54), and is off to its best start in four years, averaging 3.14 million total viewers in 2020-2021 to date.

The Fox TV broadcast of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace delivered 1.37 million total viewers and 342,000 A25-54 viewers. The cable replays earned a combined 3.6 million total viewers and 583,000 A25-54 viewers. Combined with the first-run broadcast, that’s roughly 4.9 million total viewers and 925,000 A25-54 viewers tuning in to FNS on Oct. 18.

How did the shows perform relative to the prior week? With the exception of Meet the Press, which aired at 8 a.m. in a lot of East Coast markets due to the French Open (and was retitled), the shows were slightly down. Meet the Press was +48% in total viewers and +48% in the A25-54 demo from the prior week, as expected. Face the Nation was -3% in total viewers and -3% in the demo. ABC’s This Week was -4% in total viewers and -8% in the demo. Fox News Sunday was -6% in total viewers and -4% in the demo.

What about the comparable Sunday in 2019? Face the Nation was strong: +24% in total viewers and +10% in adults 25-54. Meet the Press was +5% in total viewers, but lost traction with adults 25-54 (-8%). This Week was +11% in total viewers and +10% in adults 25-54. Fox News Sunday was +5% in total viewers but -9% in adults 25-54.

Lastly, compared with the third Sunday before the 2016 election (Oct. 23, 2016), MTP was -6% in total viewers and -33% in adults 25-54. Face the Nation was preempted by an NFL on CBS national broadcast from London and no numbers were released. ABC’s This Week was -3% in total viewers and -28% in adults 25-54. Fox News Sunday was -18% in total viewers and -15% in adults 25-54.

Story is Sunday show viewership is down relative to the last election, particularly among younger news audiences.

Oct. 18, 2020 Sunday Public Affairs Show Ratings (Nielsen live-plus-same-day):

Network Program Total Viewers A25-54
CBS Face the Nation (1/2 hr) 3,742,000 749,000
NBC Meet the Press 3,398,000 719,000
ABC This Week 3,002,000 618,000
FOX Fox News Sunday 1,373,000 342,000

Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI (Total Viewers and Adults 25-54); Live + SD

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