ABC and NBC slugged it out during the second quarter of 2019. After it was all said and done, the battle for ratings supremacy came down to the final day of the quarter, and the result was a split decision.
ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir had its most-watched 2nd quarter in 14 years – since 2Q05, and finished No. 1 in total viewers (8.17 million) based on Most Current Data from Nielsen.
ABC’s evening newscast out-delivered NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt by its largest quarter margin (+792,000) in 23 years – since Q2 of 1996. In addition, World News Tonight won the 2nd quarter for the 3rd year in a row and 9th quarter overall in total viewers – since Q2 2017.
WNT also posted year-over-year audience growth this quarter.
Believe it or not, the race for No. 1 among adults 25-54 for the second quarter came down to Friday. ABC was actually winning the quarter through Thursday, June 27, however NBC pulled ahead on Friday and ended up winning the quarter by +1,000 A25-54 viewers. The Friday broadcast of Nightly News undoubtedly received a nice bump from the second night of the first Democratic primary debate on Thursday.
On the other hand, NBC Nightly News marked its fourth consecutive quarterly win in the aforementioned key news demo.
How did the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscast rate when compared with Q2 2018?
ABC was +2% in total viewers, NBC was -3% in total viewers, while the CBS Evening News was -5%. In the A25-54 demo, ABC was -4%, NBC was -4% and CBS -10% vs. Q2 of last year.
The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell will launch from New York on July 15.
Numbers for Q2, 2019:
|• Total Viewers:||8,167,000||7,375,000||5,468,000|
As was the case for the quarter, the race for evening news weekly ratings supremacy resulted in a split decision, with ABC finishing No. 1 among total viewers and NBC No. 1 among adults 25-54.
Per Nielsen, World News Tonight averaged 7.82 million total viewers for the week of June 24, 2019, which is +1,044,000 million than its NBC rival. The ABC evening newscast increased its total viewer advantage year to year (+69% vs. +616,000), and finished No. 1 in total viewers for 39 out of the past 40 weeks.
This is all a bit surprising considering increased attention being paid to NBC for its Democratic primary debate coverage on Wednesday and Thursday. However, it’s worth noting Nightly News aired earlier than usual in the LA and Seattle market last week due to the debate.
Nevertheless, NBC Nightly News continued to win the battle for the demo, beating ABC by +11,000 and CBS by +544,000 demo viewers this past week. Lester Holt was in Miami last week as one of the moderators of the first Democratic presidential primary debate.
How did the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts rate when compared with the same week in 2018?
ABC was flat in total viewers, NBC was -6% in total viewers, while the CBS Evening News was -9%. In the A25-54 demo, ABC was -9%, NBC was -4% and CBS -17% vs. the week of June 25, 2018.
Numbers for the week of June 24, 2019:
|• Total Viewers:||7,815,000||6,771,000||5,000,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD, 2018-19 Current Week (w/o 6/24/19), and Year-Ago Week (w/o 6/25/18). Season to date: Most Current: 2018 -2019 Season (9/24/18 – 6/30/19) and 2017-2018 Season (9/25/18 – 7/1/18). Most Current – 2Q19: 4/1 – 6/30/19, – 2Q18: 4/2 – 7/1/18 and 1Q19: 12/31/18 – 3/31/19. Averages based on regular telecasts.