Another year, another win for ABC News in the evenings.
ABC World News Tonight with David Muir has finished the 2022-’23 TV season as the No. 1 evening newscast on U.S. TV, both in average total viewers ( 8.1 million) and among adults 25-54 ( 1.29 million). That’s now seven consecutive seasons that WNT has been America’s most-watched evening newscast. NBC Nightly News had won the previous 20 seasons.
Not only did World News Tonight continue to grab the largest total audience, but it spent all 52 weeks of the broadcast season as the top-rated evening newscast in the key Adults 25-54 demo, marking its fourth consecutive season at No. 1 in the key measurement.
In addition, the ABC evening newscast stood as the most-watched program on all of broadcast and cable TV for 14 of the 53 weeks of the season (31 weeks if one excludes sports programming). Nevertheless, that’s more weeks at No. 1 than any other regularly-scheduled broadcast or cable program in 2022-’23.
Despite its win, World News Tonight shed -1% of its average total audience and a steep -12% of its A25-54 audience from the previous season, marking year-over-year audience losses for the second consecutive season.
The No. 8 regularly-scheduled show across broadcast and cable, NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt came in second place in the evening news ratings race, having averaged more than 6.74 million viewers and 1.1 million adults 25-54 in the 2022-’23 TV season. Compared to 2021-’22, Nightly News shed -2% in total viewers, and -7% in A25-54 viewers.
Despite this -7% drop off in the demo, Nightly News was able to close the gap with ABC in the measurement, marking its most narrow A25-54 gap since the 2019-20 TV season.
CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.83 million total viewers and 752,000 A25-54 viewers for the 2022-’23 TV season. That’s -2% in average total viewers and -10% in A25-54 viewers from what the newscast averaged in 2021-’22.
Despite the decline in total viewers, CBS Evening News saw its tightest margin with NBC in 28 seasons (1994-’95) and its tighest margin with ABC in five seasons (since 2017-’18).
Entertainment programming has seen Nielsen ratings losses for the past several years, expedited by the erosion of the pay-TV cable bundle. That trend is now hitting the broadcast news business, as evidenced by a second consecutive season of evening news ratings decline. However, the three main network newscasts are still attracting a combined 20 million viewers, not to mention those who are streaming the evening news, figures which aren’t counted by Nielsen. That’s a lot of Americans who continue to be interested in consuming the evening news on a daily basis, albeit on their own terms.
Evening News numbers for 2022-’23 TV season:
|• Total Viewers:||8,098,000||6,742,000||4,829,000|
How did the evening newscasts fare in Q3 (“the summer quarter”), ratings-wise? The trends are mixed.
As expected, ABC World News Tonight is the highest-rated newscast for the quarter, averaging 7.61 million total viewers and more than 1.14 million A25-54 viewers —marking 26 consecutive quarters as the most-watched evening newscast and 15 consecutive quarters as the top-rated evening newscast among Adults 25-54—since Q2 2017 and Q1 2020, respectively.
World News Tonight shed -1% of its average total audience and -4% in A25-54 viewers from the previous quarter (Q2, ’23). The trend was better relative to Q3 of last year, as World News Tonight gained +3% in total viewers to stand as the only evening newscast to grow its overall audience versus the year-ago quarter. However, the newscast continues to shed A25-54 viewers, -10% from Q3 of last year.
In Q3 ’23, NBC Nightly News averaged 6.14 million total viewers (No. 4 among all U.S. broadcast and cable non-sports programming) and more than one million A25-54 viewers. That represents a -3% drop-off in average total viewers and but a +4% gain in A25-54 viewers from the prior quarter (Q2 ’23). In fact, Nightly News was able to improve its A25-54 gap vs. ABC for the fifth consecutive quarter and is the only evening newscast to grow in the key demo versus the previous quarter.
Compared to the year-ago quarter (Q3 of 2022), Nightly News gained +0.3% in A25-54 viewers but shed -1% in average total viewers.
Lastly, CBS Evening News averaged 4.44 million total viewers but only 670,000 A25-54 viewers in Q3. That’s -3% in total viewers and -4% among Adults 25-54 vs. the prior quarter. Compared to Q3 of 2021, the newscast was down -1% in total viewers, and -10% in A25-54 viewers.
Evening News numbers for Q3 2023:
|• Total Viewers:||7,609,000||6,143,000||4,439,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 9/18/23) and Previous Week (w/o 9/11/23). L+7/Most Current Data Stream: Season 2022-2023 (9/19/22-9/24/23) and Season 2021-2022 (9/20/21-9/18/2023). L+7/Most Current – 3Q23: 6/26 – 9/24/23,.2Q22: 3/27 – 6/25/23 and 3Q22: 6/27 – 9/18/22. Live. Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.