Oct. 4 Sunday Show Ratings: Meet the Press Earns Tight Win; ABC’s This Week Posts Best Ratings in 4 Months

By A.J. Katz 

The race for Sunday show ratings supremacy on Oct. 4 was a pretty tight one, but the result remained a pretty recognizable one.

According to the most up-to-date live-plus-same-day numbers from Nielsen, NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd finished in first place on Oct. 4, both in total viewers and in the adults 25-54 category.

MTP drew 3.6 million total viewers for its first-run broadcast. That’s +8% (+261,000) more than what ABC’s This Week drew and +4% (+132,000) more than what Face the Nation attracted.

It’s also the show’s largest total audience in 17 weeks and its largest A25-54 audience in 11 weeks.

The longest-running show on TV averaged 748,000 from the A25-54 demo. Its margin of victory over CBS in the demo was sizable (643,000), but it didn’t beat its ABC competition by much (+13,000).

An additional 332,000 total viewers and 134,000 A25-54 viewers watched the Sunday program via rebroadcast on NBC.

The program made the controversial decision to book Trump reelection campaign senior adviser Jason Miller, but his appearance didn’t seem to hurt ratings.

Meet the Press has ranked No. 1 among the Sunday shows for four consecutive seasons, both in total viewers and among adults 25-54.

CBS’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan was the second-most-watched Sunday show, behind Meet the Press and ahead of This Week. The program finished in third behind NBC and ABC among adults 25-54.

That said, Face the Nation, once again, decided to retitle its broadcast, meaning that its ratings are excluded from the season averages. Its retitling was due in part to a CBS News special report that ran on its second feed about the latest from the doctors at Walter Reed.

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos posted its strongest ratings in four months, averaging 3.34 million total viewers and 735,000 adults 25-54.

Like NBC, ABC made waves by booking Miller, a figure reviled in some political circles and among left-leaning media personalities.

The Fox TV broadcast of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace delivered 1.255 million total viewers and 344,000 A25-54 viewers. The cable replays earned a combined 3.2 million total viewers and 578,000 A25-54 viewers. Combined with the first-run broadcast, that’s around 4.4 million total viewers and 922,000 A25-54 viewers tuning in to FNS on Oct. 4.

How did the shows perform relative to the prior week? Meet the Press was +23% in total viewers and +13% in the A25-54 demo. Face the Nation was +11% in total viewers and +33% in the demo. ABC’s This Week was +15% in total viewers and +4% in the demo. Fox News Sunday was +24% in total viewers and +54% in the demo.

How did the shows perform relative to the comparable Sunday in 2019? Among total viewers (mostly older viewers) and less so among younger viewers. Meet the Press was +11% in total viewers but -6% in adults 25-54. Face the Nation was +6% in total viewers but -3% in the demo. This Week was +18% in total viewers but -3% in the demo. Fox News Sunday was +16% in total viewers and +19% in the demo.

The same Sunday in 2016? Not quite as well. The Sunday shows seem to be performing fine this year relative to nonelection years, but not well relative to previous election years. This past Sunday’s edition of MTP was -14% in total viewers and a whopping -36% among adults 25-54 versus Oct. 2, 2016. FTN didn’t air due to an NFL game in London. ABC’s This Week was -10% in total viewers and -34% among adults 25-54. Fox News Sunday’s losses weren’t quite as bad: -1% in total viewers and -8% among adults 25-54.

Oct. 4, 2020 Sunday Public Affairs Show Ratings (Nielsen, live-plus-same-day):

Network Program Total Viewers A25-54
NBC Meet the Press 3,599,000 748,000
CBS Face the Nation (1/2 hr) 3,467,000 735,000
ABC This Week 3,338,000 643,000
FOX Fox News Sunday 1,475,000 432,000

Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI (Total Viewers and Adults 25-54); Live + SD for 9/27/20, 9/20/20 and 9/29/19 or as dated.  Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21 – 10/4/19) and 2019 -2020 Season (9/23 – 10/6/19).  *Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing.  Prior to 8/31/20, ratings do not include OOH viewing.  Nielsen ratings for “This Week” include additional airings in select markets. Averages based on regular telecasts. 

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