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Wall-to-wall coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic is giving television news programming a massive viewership boost. Few genres are more in need of a ratings lift than the Sunday public affairs genre, and each of broadcast’s big 4 got one.
For instance, on March 15, Meet the Press with Chuck Todd posted the show’s largest audience since 2009, averaging 4.2 million viewers on NBC, to go with an additional 952,000 total viewers watching through rebroadcasts on NBC and MSNBC.
According to data from Nielsen, that’s +28% more total viewers than what ABC delivered (+1.02 million), and +7% more than CBS drew (+304,000).
The NBC Sunday morning program also averaged +38% more A25-54 demo viewers than ABC (+346,000), and +30% more demo viewers than CBS (+285,000).
The 1.25 million marks MTP’s highest A25-54 viewer delivery in 88 weeks (since February 18, 2018).
CBS’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan averaged its largest total audience in 3 years. The program remains No. 2 in Total Viewers, season to-date. Like the competition, FTN posted noticeable year-over-year viewership growth.
ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos took third place across the board this past Sunday, and remains ahead of its CBS competition among viewers from the news demo this season to-date.
The Fox broadcast edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace delivered 1.6 million viewers and 493,000 demo viewers. The trio of cable replays delivered 5.13 million viewers and 1.12 demo viewers. Altogether, that’s 6.76 million viewers and 1.69 million demo viewers on Sunday, March 15.
Relative to the comparable Sunday in 2019, MTP was +35% in Total Viewers and +46% in the news demo. Face the Nation was +41% in Total Viewers and +36% in the news demo. This Week was +28% in Total Viewers and +35% in the demo. FNS was +30% in Total Viewers, and +42% in the demo.
The original Nielsen numbers for March 15 2020:
|NBC||Meet the Press||4,657,000||1,245,000|
|CBS||Face the Nation (1/2 hr)||4,354,000||960,000|
|FOX||Fox News Sunday||1,635,000||493,000|
Nielsen live-plus-same day data, March 15, 2020