ABC News, NBC News and CBS News dispatched their respective evening news anchors to Israel last week to cover one of the most significant global conflicts in recent years.
How did originating from Israel influence each newscast’s audience figures? Per live plus same day data from Nielsen, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir averaged 7.51 million total viewers (No. 1 across broadcast and cable TV) and 1.125 million A25-54 viewers for the Tuesday through Thursday portion of this past week. That’s -0.5% in total viewers and +1% in A25-54 viewers from the previous week (which was rated on four days, excluding Monday). When compared with the same week in 2022 (when WNT rated on all five days), World News Tonight is -2% in total viewers and -10% in A25-54 viewers, as ABC’s evening newscast continues its trend of losing viewers under 55 on an annual basis, despite a major global news event.
The Monday, Oct. 9 broadcast of World News Tonight was not Nielsen-rated/excluded due to Monday Night Football continuing to air on ABC stations in several markets west of the Mississippi. Additionally, ABC News decided to retitle its Friday, Oct. 13 broadcast. The Monday retitling of ABC World News Tonight has been a consistent (and understandable) practice since the start of the Monday Night Football season in light of the newscast being preempted in several U.S. markets. However, the Friday broadcast retitling is more unorthodox. We’ll dive deeper into that shortly.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt trended in a more positive direction than its ABC competition. The newscast drew an average of 1.12 million A25-54 viewers this past Monday through Friday, its largest A25-54 audience since February. That’s also an impressive +15% from what the newscast averaged the week earlier (week of Oct. 2), and a solid +8% from the year-ago week.
Not only did NBC Nightly News gain a substantial number of Adults 25-54 on a week-to-week and year-over-year basis, it also saw growth in total audience. NBC Nightly News was the third-most-watched show across all of broadcast and cable TV (excluding sports) for the week, averaging 6.69 million — the newscast’s largest average total audience since April, a solid +5% bump from the week before, and +5% from the year-ago week.
Additionally, according to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals—and the YouTube Analytics Portal, full weekday episodes of NBC Nightly News earned an average of 1.4 million views and one million viewers last week.
Holt is still on the ground anchoring NBC Nightly News from Israel, a move which could bolster ratings even next week.
Now, recall when we wrote that NBC Nightly News saw a significant increase in A25-54 viewing during the week of Oct. 9? Well, if one includes World News Tonight’s retitled Monday broadcast in the Nielsen weekly ratings comparison, NBC Nightly News actually averages more Adults 25-54 than ABC for the first time since March 2020 (+17,000 more). However, if one compares World News Tonight’s Nielsen-related broadcasts (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), with NBC Nightly News’ five Nielsen-rated days (Monday through Friday), World News Tonight comes out on top by a slim margin of +1,000 viewers. ABC World News Tonight also beat NBC Nightly News across the board on Friday, another day it retitled.
In sum, who really won the key A25-54 demo this past week? If you include the retitled World News Tonight Monday broadcast, NBC wins. If you exclude it (as we’ve done since the start of the 2023 MNF season), ABC wins. To steal a certain cable news slogan: “We report, you decide.”
Changing channels, The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.805 million total viewers and 703,000 Adults 25-54 for the week of Oct. 9. That’s up +3% in total viewers and a solid +6% in A25-54 viewers from the previous week. CBS Evening News, like ABC and NBC, gained total viewers from the year-ago week (+5%), but shed A25-54 viewers (-10%).
Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Oct. 9, 2023:
|ABC (3 days)||NBC||CBS|
|• Total Viewers:||7,512,000||6,688,000||4,805,000|
Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 10/9/23), Previous Week (w/o 10/2/23) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 10/3/22). Most Current Data Stream: 2022-2023 Season (9/25 – 10/16/22) and 2022-2023 Season (9/19 – 10/9/22). 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.