‘Nightly News’ Wins Q1 For 16th Straight Year

By Chris Ariens 

A streak that began in 2000, continued in the just-completed first quarter of 2015 as “NBC Nightly News” kept a slight +4% lead on chief rival ABC’s “World News Tonight.” And while ABC and CBS saw viewership growth (of 5% and 1%, respectively) NBC declined -6% vs. Q1 2014, which included NBC’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics.

“Nightly” also overtook “World News Tonight” in the A25-54 demo, which ABC had won in Q4 2014. However, this was NBC’s lowest Q1 in the demo since at least 1991 when electronic records began. On the flip side, for the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley,” it was the network’s best first quarter viewership in 9 years (since Q1 2006).

“Nightly News” was anchored for the first 6 weeks of the quarter by Brian Williams. The final 7 weeks was anchored by Lester Holt. While Holt has held the lead following Williams’s suspension, NBC’s chief competitor, ABC, wonders if overnight re-airs have helped keep “Nightly” on top.


While the overnight experiment in 10 markets will continue, those overnight ratings will no longer count toward the weekly average which means the second quarter of 2015 will be very interesting to watch.

Numbers for Q1 2015:

• Total Viewers: 9,506,000 9,097,000 7,755,000
• A25-54: 2,325,000 2,256,000 1,834,000