Sunday Show Ratings: On Jan. 5, Face the Nation Earned Most Total Viewers, Meet the Press Was No. 1 Among Adults 25-54

By A.J. Katz 

The first Sunday of 2020 brought with it a split decision, ratings-wise. CBS’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan averaged the largest total audience, while NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd earned the most adults 25-54.

Per live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, Face the Nation averaged 3.6 million total viewers on Jan. 5, which is the program’s largest audience of the 2019-2020 season to-date. The half-hour version of the Sunday show topped its NBC competition in total viewers by +8% (+273,000) and its ABC competition by +22% (647,000).

Meet the Press, on the other hand, averaged roughly 815,000 adults 25-54 on NBC, its largest audience in the demo since last April. The Sunday show topped its ABC and CBS competition in the A25-54 demo by double digits: +22% more than ABC (+148,000), and +12% more than CBS (+85,000), and remains the No. 1 Sunday show of the broadcast season to-date.


Also, an additional 845,000 total viewers and 212,000 A25-54 viewers watched Meet the Press through repeats on NBC and MSNBC.

ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos took 3rd place in the relevant measurements this past Sunday, and is No. 3, behind NBC and CBS, in total viewers season to-date. However, it does lead CBS in the A25-54 demographic this season to-date.

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace delivered nearly 1.4 million total viewers on Fox broadcast, with 423,000 from the A25-54 demo.

Compared to the year-ago Sunday, Meet the Press was -12% in total viewers and -13% in A25-54 demo viewers, by far the most significant year-over-year losses. Face the Nation, on the other hand, posted total viewers growth (+2%). However, it was -4% in the A25-54 demo. This Week was -3% in total viewers and -5% among adults 25-54, while Fox News Sunday was -5% in total viewers and -7% among adults 25-54.

The Sunday shows focused not only on the 2020 election, but also on the assassination of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani days earlier. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo appeared on the shows to talk about this event.

The numbers for Jan. 5, 2020:

Network Program Total Viewers A25-54
CBS Face the Nation (1/2 hr) 3,570,000 730,000
NBC Meet the Press 3,297,000 815,000
ABC This Week 2,923,000 667,000
FOX Fox News Sunday 1,398,000 423,000

 Source: Nielsen Live-Plus-Same-Day data

Note: Face the Nation’s 2nd half-hour was broadcast contiguously across 91.026% of the CBS affiliates.