For the third consecutive season, ABC was home to the No.1 evening newscast in total audience, while NBC reigned supreme among the advertiser-preferred A25-54 demographic for the 12th consecutive season.
World News Tonight with David Muir finished 2018-2019 on par with last season’s highest viewership in 13 years, and grew its total viewer advantage over NBC by +37%.
Not only did World News beat NBC Nightly News by a larger total viewers margin than last year (+664,000), but the ABC newscast finished just -26,000 A25-54 viewers behind NBC. That’s a 67% improvement from last year, when World News finished 78,000 A25-54 viewers behind NBC, and the closest the broadcast has been to its NBC rival in the demo in 12 years.
However, World News Tonight was still down in A25-54 viewers from last season.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt finished No. 1 in the A25-54 demo for a record-setting 12th straight season over ABC, though the margin of victory in the advertiser-friendly demo was slimmer than in recent seasons.
Nightly’s margin of victory over CBS Evening News in the demo, however, significantly wider. In fact, its +574,000 A25-54 viewer advantage represents the widest gap in seven seasons. NBC has defeated CBS in the demo for 26 consecutive seasons.
In addition to Nightly News, Today show, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd also finished No. 1 in the A25-54 demo, marking four straight seasons that each of those three shows has finished No. 1 in the A25-54 demographic.
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim sent out a memo late last week announcing the No. 1 finish in the demo, adding: “We have more outlets than ever before to serve up our distinct brand of storytelling – from the network, MSNBC, and all our digital platforms, including the newly launched NBC News Now, to our multiple podcasts and social media shows, to our future global news service with our partners at Sky, there’s never been a time of greater achievement or greater opportunity at NBC News. Thanks to all of you for your exceptional work.”
The CBS Evening News had a chaotic season. Jeff Glor was anchor of the CBS Evening News through mid-May, before being taken off the newscast and eventually moving to CBS This Morning: Saturday. He was supplanted by a rotating group of anchors before Norah O’Donnell took the reins of the broadcast on a permanent basis July 15, 2019.
Compared to the 2017-2018 TV news season, World News Tonight was flat in total viewers, and -3% in the key A25-54 demo. NBC Nightly News was -3% in total viewers and -6% among adults 25-54. CBS Evening News was -6% in total viewers, and -10% among adults 25-54.
Average audience for 2018-2019 season
|• Total Viewers:||8,609,000||7,945,000||5,835,000|
The evening news ratings race was similar this summer, with World News finishing Q3 2019 as the No. 1 evening newscast in total audience, and NBC Nightly News No. 1 among adults 25-54.
World News Tonight was No. 1 in total viewers for the third consecutive Q3, and attracted its largest overall 3rd quarter audience in 15 years– since Q3 of 2014. The ABC evening newscast also turned in its largest total viewers advantage over Nightly News in 24 years (+932,000).
World News Tonight also closed in on Nightly News in the key A25-54 demo vs. Q3 of last year by -48% (33,000 vs. 63,000), the slimmest margin in five years.
The margin of victory may have tightened, but a win is still a win, and Nightly News once again defeated World News Tonight in the key demos this past Q3, knocking off the ABC evening newscast in the advertiser-friendly A25-54 measurement by +2% (+33,000 viewers). Nightly beat the CBS Evening News in the key demo by a solid +57% (554,000).
CBS Evening News, which went through some significant changes this summer, including moving from substitute anchors to a permanent anchor in Norah O’Donnell, predictably posted the most significant year-over-year audience dropoff.
Compared with the third quarter of 2018, World News Tonight was +1% in total viewers, but -5% in the key A25-54 demo. NBC Nightly News was -4% in total viewers and -7% among adults 25-54. Evening News was -9% in total viewers, and -12% among adults 25-54.
Average audience for Q3 2019:
|• Total Viewers:||8,145,000||7,213,000||5,092,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD. Most Current: 2018-2019 Season (9/24/18 – 9/22/19) and 2017-2018 Season (9/25/17 – 9/23/18). Averages based on regular telecasts.