Tight at Night: The Evening News Race

By SteveK 

ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson and NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams finished within 60,000 viewers of each other in the A25-54 demo last week, and even closer in Total Viewers. The week mirrors the entire recent history between the two programs, tightly locked in a battle for evening news supremacy.

“We are certainly not on cruise control,” says Nightly News EP Alexandra Wallace. “We spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to put in our 22 minutes, so in that regard I think competition is good. I want to win.”

World News EP Jon Banner enjoys the competition as well. “We all benefit when it’s a hard fought race,” he tells TVNewser. “I think it keeps us on our toes and pushes you to do the best every day.”

For the 2008 calendar year, NBC has won in Total Viewers 15 weeks, compared to five for ABC (with one tie). In the A25-54 demo, NBC has won 11 weeks while ABC has won eight (with two ties).

“I don’t dispute its a close race, but we are proud of what we do every night. I feel like the tide has turned in our direction, and we certainly are winning most weeks,” says Wallace.

“In essence it’s a tie ballgame going to extra innings,” Banner says. “I think, unlike the democratic race which is close to coming to an end, this trading wins will go back and forth for quite some time.”

Banner says whoever is in first, the interest in the ratings battle is good for a style of news thought by some to be losing relevance. “Attention on the two programs is good. Any attention on the evening news is good for everybody,” he says.

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