Evening News Ratings: Q4 2018; Week of Dec. 24

By A.J. Katz 

There was a split decision in the evening news ratings race for Q4, with ABC finishing No. 1 in total viewers and NBC No. 1 among younger news demos, including the ad-friendly A25-54 demo.

Anchored by David Muir, World News Tonight defeated its NBC counterpart by an average of +306,000 total viewers in Q4, winning the quarter for the 3rd year in a row. World News Tonight has now won the last 7 quarters overall in total viewers for the first time in 22 years – since 2nd Quarter 1995 – 4th Quarter 1996.

Despite those accolades, World News Tonight was -3 percent in total viewers and -3 percent in the key A25-54 demo vs. its Q4 2017 delivery.

With a new executive producer in Jenn Suozzo, Nightly News with Lester Holt remained No. 1 among adults 25-54, and No. 2 in total viewers. Despite finishing first in the demo, the broadcast was -6 percent in that category vs. what it delivered in Q4 2017. The year-over-year loss was less severe when it came to total viewers, however, with the broadcast -2 percent vs. Q4 2017.

For Q4 2018, CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor was -7 percent in total viewers, and -9 percent in adults 25-54 vs. its Q4 2017 delivery.

Here are the numbers for Q4 2018:

• Total Viewers: 8,664,000  8,358,000 6,136,000
• A25-54: 1,772,000 1,850,000 1,248,000




World News Tonight ended 2018 as the No. 1 across the board for the week, outperforming Nightly News by +817,000 total viewers, and by +78,000 A25-54 viewers.

It was the newscast’s largest margin of victory since the week of June 4.

Still, ABC’s evening newscast was -6 percent in total viewers, and -6 percent among adults 25-54 vs. the comparable week in 2017. While that might look so great, it’s OK relative to what its competitors posted relative to last year.

NBC Nightly News slipped to second place across the board. Relative to the same week in 2017, Nightly was -8 percent in total viewers, and -15 percent among adults 25-54.

It’s pretty evident that the younger news viewers Nightly relies on weren’t watching the evening news during holiday week.

Holt gave a shout out to his colleagues via social media earlier today, thanking them for subbing in for him during his vacation.

The CBS Evening News had similar ratings problems. The broadcast was -9 percent in total viewers, and -20 percent in A25-54 demo viewers vs. what it drew during the week of Dec. 25 2017.

It’s worth noting that Christmas Eve on Monday (12/24/18), all three newscasts were coded as specials.  Due to NBA on Tuesday (12/25/17), World News Tonight did not air.  In addition, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News were coded as specials.

On Friday (12/28/18), World News Tonight was retitled to “Wrld News Tonite,” while CBS Evening News was retitled to “CBS-Evening-Nws.” The telecasts was excluded from the weekly averages.

ABC’s and CBS’ averages are based on two days (Wed-Thurs) and NBC’s averages are based on three days (Wed-Fri).

Here are the numbers for the week of Dec. 24, 2018:

• Total Viewers: 8,801,000  7,984,000 5,978,000
• A25-54: 1,785,000 1,707,000 1,187,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 Live + SD, 2017-18 Current Week (w/o 12/24/18), Previous Week (w/o 12/17/18) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 12/25/17).  Season to date: Most Current: 2018 -2019 Season (9/24 – 12/30/18) and 2017-2018 Season (9/25 – 12/31/17).  Quarters: Live+7/Most Current – 4Q18: 9/24 – 12/30/18, 3Q17: 7/2 – 9/23/18 and 4Q17: 9/25 – 12/31/17. Averages based on regular telecasts.