‘Nightly News’ Rebroadcasts Raise Ratings Questions

By Mark Joyella 

NBC News has quietly begun airing rebroadcasts of “NBC Nightly News” in select markets, including “Atlanta,¬†Denver,¬†Minneapolis, Seattle and at least half a dozen other major urban areas” in the overnight hours between 2 and 4 a.m., in what Politico reports may be an effort to keep the newscast number one amid a strong challenge from ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

NBC News has pointed to its recent ratings performance as an indication the suspension of Brian Williams has not hurt the network’s flagship newscast. But rebroadcasts–permissible, according to Nielsen–may have played a key role:

What’s notable in this case, however, is that NBC News began rebroadcasting the program the week of Feb. 2, the same week that Williams apologized for false claims he had made about his experiences in Iraq. It began by rebroadcasting in just one market, but added an additional three markets the following week — which was the week that Williams was suspended for six months without pay.

NBC News says the rebroadcast effort was planned before the Williams suspension. ABC does not rebroadcast “World News Tonight,” and CBS does not rebroadcast “The CBS Evening News.”