2019 and 2020 have been defined by countless breaking news stories. The Sunday shows have been beneficiary of this environment, and each saw noticeable viewership growth relative to the prior TV season.
According to the most up-to-date live-plus-same-day numbers from Nielsen, NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd was the No. 1 Sunday public affairs show for the 2019-2020 season, averaging the most total viewers and most adults 25-54.
MTP averaged 3.5 million total viewers and 822,000 adults 25-54 for the season. That’s now four straight seasons that “the longest-running show on television” has ranked No. 1 across the board.
How does that fare against other seasons of note? MTP was +7% in total viewers and +2% among adults 25-54 versus the 2018-2019 TV season (3.29 million / 805,000). How about relative to the 2015-2016 season? Not as good: -2% in total viewers and -19% in adults 25-54 (get used to seeing massive losses in the demo as we show more programs).
CBS Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan was the No. 2 Sunday public affairs program for the season, averaging 3.4 million total viewers and 700,000 adults 25-54. It is worth noting that FTN retitled a fair number of its summer broadcasts, meaning ratings for those shows aren’t included in the final averages. That becomes especially notable for the Q3 ratings rankings, which we’ll get to later.
FTN was +11% in total viewers and +4% among adults 25-54 versus the 2018-2019 TV season (3.07 million / 673,000). Solid growth. There was no growth relative to the most recent presidential election season, however. Face the Nation, relative to 2015-2016, was -6% in total viewers and -23% in adults 25-54.
ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos came in third place for the 2019-2020 season, averaging 3 million total viewers and 690,000 adults 25-54. That’s the program’s most-watched season since 2016-17. How do these figures stack up versus 2015-2016? Not well. This Week was -6% in total viewers and was -25% in adults 25-54.
The Fox TV broadcast of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace averaged 1.43 million total viewers and 402,000 adults 25-54 for 2019-2020 season. That’s growth from 2018-2019, but relative to 2015-2016, it’s -6% in total viewers and -12% in adults 25-54.
While each of the Sunday shows was up from the prior TV season (an election-less season), each was down from the 2015-2016 TV season.
2019-2020 season ratings (Nielsen, live-plus-same-day):
|NBC||Meet the Press||3,505,000||822,000|
|CBS||Face the Nation (1/2 hr)||3,413,000||700,000|
|FOX||Fox News Sunday||1,432,000||402,000|
Meet the Press and Face the Nation split the Q3 2020 ratings race, with NBC averaging the most adults 25-54, per usual, and Face the Nation averaging the most total viewers, with one caveat: Face the Nation retitled five of 11 Sunday broadcasts in Q3, meaning ratings from those shows are not included in the final Q3 delivery. These five shows were among Face the Nation’s lowest-rated of the quarter. Meet the Press, on the other hand, retitled two of its 11 Sunday broadcasts, meaning those shows aren’t included in the final Q3 delivery either.
Face the Nation’s six Nielsen-rated broadcasts beat Meet the Press’ nine Nielsen-rated broadcasts, averaging 3.24 million viewers for the six versus 3.18 million viewers for the nine. As a result, Face the Nation is technically the most-watched Sunday public affairs show for the quarter, breaking MTP’s streak of 11 straight quarters at No. 1 in total viewers.
In Q3 2020, Face the Nation was +19% in total viewers, but flat in adults 25-54 versus Q3 2019.
A category MTP did not lose was adults 25-54. MTP won the Q3 of 2020 for the 19th consecutive quarter, averaging 684,000 viewers from the measurement. Relative to Q3 of 2019, Meet the Press posted +12% growth in total viewers and +3% growth in the demo.
ABC’s This Week finished behind its NBC and CBS competition in total viewers (2.8 million), but beat CBS in adults 25-54 (607,000 versus 588,000). Those figures represent +6% growth in total viewers, but no change among adults 25-54.
Lastly, Fox News Sunday had the best Q3 relative to 2019, +21% in total viewers (1.38 million versus 1.14 million) and +19% in adults 25-54 (365,000 versus 308,000).
Q3 2020 ratings (Nielsen, live-plus-same-day):
|CBS||Face the Nation (1/2 hr)||3,244,000||588,000|
|NBC||Meet the Press||3,178,000||684,000|
|FOX||Fox News Sunday||1,375,000||365,000|
*Ratings now reflect the addition of Out of Home (OOH) viewership that Nielsen began measuring on Aug. 31 across only 44 markets.
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI (Total Viewers and Adults 25-54); Live + SD for 9/13/20, 9/6/20 and 9/15/19 or as dated. Most Current: 2019 -2020 Season (9/23/19-9/14/20*) and 2018 -2019 Season (9/24/19 – 9/8/19). Prior to 8/31/20, ratings do not include OOH viewing. Nielsen ratings for “This Week” include additional airings in select markets. Averages based on regular telecasts.