Election Week Viewership Down for the Evening Newscasts

By Chris Ariens 

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During what should be one of the biggest nights of an election year, the three evening newscasts all lost viewers compared to the same week last year. (The Friday of the same week last year included breaking news of the attacks in Paris.)

NBC Nightly News, which won the week overall, was down -6 in viewers but up +2 percent in the A25-54 demo. ABC World News Tonight was down -1 percent in viewers and up +2 percent in the demo. The CBS Evening News was down -6 percent in viewers and down -1 percent in the demo.

And when compared to the week of the 2008 election, the last time no incumbent was running for president, only CBS Evening News saw a jump in viewership, up a whopping +20 percent in viewers, though down -8 percent in the demo.

NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight were both down -6 percent in viewers and down double digits in the demo: down -24 percent and -32 percent, respectively vs. election week 2008. These troubling trends say a lot about how Americans get their news. Digital news sources, nearly ubiquitous among the younger demos that TV advertisers crave, are siphoning traditional TV viewers away. Add to that explosive growth at the cable news networks in the final weeks of the election that have also taken viewers from the evening newscasts. It also might say something about the candidates running for president.

Another piece of data: the three evening newscasts averaged a combined 24.78 million viewers last week, on par with the 24.69 million who watched during election week 2008.

Evening news numbers for the week of Nov. 7:

• Total Viewers: 8,750,000 8,709,000 7,322,000
• A25-54: 2,377,000 2,081,000 1,789,000