‘Nightly News’ Takes Ratings Hit During Brian Williams Crises

By Chris Ariens 

Preliminary Nielsen ratings show “NBC Nightly News” dropped -36% on Friday from last week’s Monday-Thursday average among A25-54 viewers. NBC’s competitors were down too, but not as much: ABC was down -16% while CBS was down -17% on Friday.

The fast affiliate data also shows “Nightly,” which Williams anchored despite being in the news, was beaten Friday in both total viewers and the A25-54 demo by “ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.” Williams’s first apology came during Wednesday’s “Nightly News.” By Friday evening the story was on full boil. These numbers will adjust some when final ratings are released tomorrow.

Also today, Playbook reports NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke held a meeting at his house yesterday “to discuss the next steps in the Brian Williams crisis.”


The meeting, attended by NBC News executives, comes as Williams continues to be the news with multiple segments on CNN’s “New Day” and “Fox & Friends” this morning. On MSNBC, Mika Brzezinski produced a 2-and-a-half minute package for “Morning Joe” reporting the latest on the story, including soundbites of embellished stories Williams has told on WNYC Radio and in that David Letterman appearance in 2013. Scarborough then weighed in: “Brian is not only a friend of our family, he is also our neighbor. We literally live just around the corner from each other.”

I’m just hopeful, because I can’t be objective here, I’m hopeful that when all of the madness that’s going on, investigations that need to be going on, when the fury dies down and when we get through the storm and the decision is made to judge what Brian Williams’ future should be, that that decision will be based on the entirety of his career and not on one or two or three mistakes