ABC World News Tonight with David Muir was the most-watched program on U.S. television last week, according to the most current data from Nielsen.
World News Tonight’s total viewer average of just under 9.8 million made it the most-watched program on U.S. television for the fifth consecutive week.
In addition to averaging more total viewers than its NBC and CBS evening competition for the 79th consecutive week, World News Tonight also finished ahead of its broadcast competition in the key Adults 25-54 demo for the eighth consecutive week (1.86 million).
Overall, World News Tonight is having its most-watched season in 16 years and strongest key Adults 25-54 performances in four years—since the 2003-04 and the 2015-16 seasons, respectively.
Compared to the same week in 2019, World News Tonight was +18% in Total Viewers and +18% in the key A25-54 demo.
However, World News Tonight continues to shed viewers from the prior week, and the newscast is approaching pre-Covid-19 audience levels. ABC’s evening newscast was -2% in Total Viewers and -6% in A25-54 viewers versus the week of May 11.
The broadcast was rated based on a four-day average (Monday-Thursday) due to Memorial Day weekend.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt finished in second place behind WNT in the key measurements for the seventh consecutive week. The broadcast averaged nearly 8.7 million viewers in total to go with 1.75 million Adults 25-54.
Compared to the same week in 2019, Nightly News was +18% in Total Viewers and +9% in the key demo. Compared to the prior week in 2020, Nightly shed viewers: -1% in Total Viewers and -4% in the key A25-54 demo.
The broadcast was rated based on a four-day average (Monday-Thursday) due to Memorial Day Weekend.
The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 6 million total viewers and 1.05 million A25-54 viewers last week. If one includes the 4 a.m. re-air, that number grows to 6.6 million total viewers and 1.25 million adults 25-54.
Year over year, CBS Evening News was +8% in Total Viewers and +2% in the A25-54 demo. However, compared to the prior week in 2020, Evening News was -2% in Total Viewers and -2% in the A25-54 demo.
Due to the broadcast’s technical failure on Tuesday, and the decision to exclude Friday’s broadcast due to Memorial Day Weekend, CBS Evening News’ weekly averages are based on only three days (Monday and Wednesday-Thursday).
*NOTE: Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings at various times during the day, and in a variety of markets, large and small.
Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers for the week of May 18:
|• Total Viewers:||9,779,000||8,695,000||6,006,000|
Turning to the May sweep period, World News Tonight won the May 2020 sweep across the board for the first time in 13 years (since May 2007): Total Viewers (10.22 million) and Adults 25-54 (2.03 million). The win also marked its 15th consecutive sweep victory in Total Viewers and sixth straight win in Adults 25-54—since November 2016 and February 2019, respectively
As expected, World News posted gains on the year-ago May sweep in Total Viewers (+23%/+1.936 million) and Adults 25-54 (+27%/+424,000). Overall, World News Tonight turned on its largest overall audience during a May sweep in 24 years and strongest Adults 25-54 performance in nine years—since May 1996 and May 2011, respectively.
NBC Nightly News and CBS Evening News also posted growth from the May 2019 sweep period. NBC was +23% in Total Viewers and +21% in demo viewers, while CBS was +15% in Total Viewers and +5% in demo viewers.
Nielsen live-plus-same-day numbers for the week of May 2020 sweeps:
|• Total Viewers:||10,221,000||9,176,000||6,401,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49. Sweeps based on Live+7/Most Current: May 20/20 (4/23 – 5/20/20), May 2019 (4/25-5/22/19) and February 2020 (1/30-2/26/20). Sweep periods (November, February, May and July). NOTE: Due to the digital transition, the 2009 February sweep was 3/5 – 4/1/09