Feb. 21 Sunday Show Ratings: Face the Nation, Meet the Press Split First Place

By A.J. Katz 

What a difference a week makes.

Seven days after finishing third behind ABC and NBC in all relevant categories, CBS Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan averaged the most total viewers of any Sunday public affairs show on Feb. 21, drawing 3.76 million.

Face the Nation, the most-watched Sunday show season to-date, finished No. 3 in key A25-54 demo, however, only pulling in 689,000 viewers from the measurement.


NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd slipped to second in total viewers with 3.74 million this past Sunday, but continued to rank No. 1 among adults 25-54 (735,000).

An additional 215,000 total viewers and 57,000 A25-54 viewers watched the Sunday program through a rebroadcast on NBC.

MTP has been No. 1 on Sunday mornings in the key A25-54 demo for 6 straight years.

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos was hosted by Jon Karl this past Sunday. After a strong Feb. 14, the program fell back to third place in total viewers (3.2 million) and second among adults 25-54 (721,000). Despite finishing behind its NBC and CBS competition in total viewers, This Week was still able to beat Face the Nation in the demo for the 4th consecutive week.

Additionally, season to date, This Week is improving by double digits in total viewers (+23%) and Adults 25-54 (+14%) versus the same point last season, seeing its most-watched season in 4 years – since the 2016-17 season.

On Fox TV, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace averaged 1.33 million total viewers and 339,000 A25-54 viewers. The cable replays delivered a combined 1.25 million total viewers and 282,000 A25-54 viewers. Altogether, that’s roughly 2.6 million total and 621,000 demo viewers.

Compared with the prior Sunday, Face the Nation grew +14% in total viewers and a whopping +21% in the demo. Meet the Press grew +1% in total viewers, but lost -1% in the demo from the prior Sunday. This Week was -3% in total viewers and -5% in the demo, while Fox News Sunday was -4% in total viewers, but held flat in the demo.

Compared with the year-ago Sunday, the trend was mostly positive, although the median age is away up. FTN grew +31% in total viewers and +24% in the demo. MTP grew +27% in total viewers and +6% in the demo. This Week grew +15% in total viewers, but only +1% in the demo, while FNS grew +4% in total viewers but was actually -2% in the demo.

Despite (mostly) positive ratings on Feb. 21, not everyone is loving Sunday shows these days. Alex Shephard of The New Republic went off on the genre earlier this week. In a column, he called the shows “credulous, old-fashioned, and totally unprepared to deal with a radicalized Republican Party.”

Feb. 21, 2021 Sunday Show Ratings (Nielsen live + same-day):

Network Program Total Viewers A25-54
CBS Face the Nation (1/2 hr) 3,764,000 689,000
NBC Meet the Press 3,738,000 735,000
ABC This Week 3,225,000 721,000
FOX Fox News Sunday 1,275,000 339,000

Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI (Total Viewers and Adults 25-54); Live + SD for 2/21/21, 2/14/21 and 2/23/20 or as dated. Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20 – 2/21/21) and 2019 -2020 Season (9/23/19 – 2/23/20). National ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Prior to 8/31/20, ratings did not include OOH viewing. Nielsen ratings for This Week include additional airings in select markets. Averages based on regular telecasts.