Here Are the Evening News Ratings for 2017-2018 Season, Q3 and the Week of Sept. 17

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir is the No. 1 evening newscast for the 2017-2018 season in total viewers, averaging more 8.6 million total viewers, which is the newscast’s largest average audience since 2004-2005. ABC’s evening newscast has now finished ahead of its NBC counterpart for back-to-back seasons in total viewers for the first time in 22 years (when the late Peter Jennings sat in the anchor seat).

Compared to its ratings for the 2016-2017 season, World News Tonight posted a solid +4 percent growth in total viewers and +1 percent growth in adults 25-54, while both NBC and CBS were down vs. the prior season.

WNT also made some gains on its NBC in the A25-54 demo relative to last year. It cut its season margins by more than half, -59 percent (78,000 vs. 189,000). Can ABC ever surpass NBC in the demo? That remains to be seen…


NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt finished the season ahead of its ABC and CBS competition in the key A25-54 category. This is the demographic advertisers still turn to (as we noted last week), and Nightly News has now finished at the top of the evening news class in this category for a whopping 22 consecutive seasons.

As NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told us last week: “We’re focused on the category that counts, and that’s the demo and we continue to dominate there.”

But not all is stellar on the ratings front for Nightly. The broadcast posted a decline of -1 percent in total viewers and -5 percent in A25-54 viewers vs. the 2016-2017 season. The newscast’s 1.85 million A25-54 viewer delivery represents the newscast’s lowest-rated season in the demo since Nielsen started measuring TV news programming back in 1991.

Finally, The CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor finished the 2017-2018 season -6 percent in total viewers, and -11 percent among adults 25-54 vs. the 2016-2017 season.

Numbers for 2017-2018 season

• Total Viewers:  8,637,000  8,153,000 6,209,000
• A25-54: 1,773,000 1,851,000 1,287,000




ABC World News Tonight averaged 8.07 million total viewers in Q3 2018, which is more total viewers than the evening news competition for the 6th consecutive quarter, and its largest Q3 audience since Q3 2005. The newscast also widened its year-ago lead over its NBC counterpart by +67 percent, for its largest total quarterly audience advantage since Q3 of 1996.

World News Tonight finished Q3 2018 +1 in total viewers while both NBC and CBS were down vs. Q3 2017. But not all of the ratings news was sunny for ABC. The program lost adults 25-54 (-4 percent) vs. Q3 of last year. This is something to keep an eye on going forward.

Nightly News is ranked No. 2 in total viewers and remained the No. 1 evening newscast in the key A25-54 demo this past quarter. Nightly’s 7.5 million total viewer average for the quarter is -1 percent vs. Q3 0f 2017, and its 1.66 million A25-54 viewer average is -6 percent vs. Q3 of last year.

The CBS Evening News posted the most significant year-over-year losses of the three. The broadcast was -5 percent in total viewers and -12 percent in A25-54 viewers vs. its Q3 2017 average.

Each of the evening newscasts are losing a chunk of their younger viewers. The midterms can’t come soon enough for these networks.

Numbers for 3rd Quarter, 2018

• Total Viewers: 8,072,000 7,533,000 5,609,000
• A25-54:  1,596,000 1,660,000 1,121,000




World News Tonight ranked No. 1 in total viewers for the week of Sept. 17, the final week of the 2017-2018 season. This means that the ABC evening newscast won the last 32 weeks of the season in total viewers, and won 48 of the 52 weeks overall.

But compared to the same week in 2017, World News Tonight is -3 percent in total viewers, and -9 percent in the key A25-54 demo.

NBC Nightly News ranked No. 1 in the demo this past week (though not by much) and has now won the key category 11 of the last 12 weeks. Nightly held steady at No. 2 in total viewers. Relative to the same week in 2017, NBC’s evening newscast was -3 percent in total viewers, but -11 percent in A25-54 viewers.

CBS Evening News was -7 percent in total viewers, and -9 percent in A25-54 demo vs. the comparable week last year.

NOTE: Due to the Emmy Awards on Monday (9/17/18), “NBC Nightly News” was retitled to “NBC-Nitely-News.”  The telecast was excluded from the weekly averages.  NBC’s averages are based on 4 days (Tue-Fri).

Numbers for week of Sept. 17

• Total Viewers:  8,230,000 7,578,000 5,604,000
• A25-54: 1,611,000 1,656,000  1,151,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD weeks of 9/17/18, 9/10/18 and 9/18/17. Most Current: 2017-2018 Season (9/25/17 – 9/23/18) and 2016-2017 Season (9/19/16 – 9/24/17). Most Current – 3Q18: 7/2 – 9/23/18. 2Q18: 4/2 – 7/1/18. 3Q17: 6/26 – 9/24/17. Averages based on regular telecasts.