Week of Aug. 15 Evening News Ratings: News Cycle Temporarily Calms, Causing Newscasts to See Audience Declines

By A.J. Katz 

Ratings for the evening newscasts were down this past week, yet we saw a familiar trend emerge: ABC World News Tonight with David Muir remains No. 1.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, World News Tonight averaged 7.31 million total viewers and 1.25 million adults 25-54 for the week of August 15. The 7.31 million figure means World News Tonight is not only the top-rated evening newscast, but it’s also once again the most-watched show on U.S. TV—excluding syndication—for the week. Additionally, ABC’s evening newscast has now defeated its competition from NBC and CBS 194 of the past 195 weeks in average total viewers—and 123 of the last 125 weeks among adults 25-54.

World News Tonight shed -3% in total viewers and -4% from the adults 25-54 demo vs. the previous week (August 8), when ratings were benefited by a busy news cycle featuring the FBI search at Donald Trump’s Florida residence—and the attack on Salman Rushdie. The broadcast was also down -9% in total viewers and -17% among adults 25-54 from the comparable week in 2021 (Aug. 16), which featured breaking news coverage of the Afghanistan exit crisis.


Lester Holt returned to the NBC Nightly News anchor desk after a week off—and the newscast averaged 6.09 million total viewers on the linear network. That’s -1% from the week prior when Tom Llamas and Kate Snow guest-hosted the newscast. The week-to-week drop off likely has more to do with the “calming” of the news cycle than any personnel changes. The 6.09 million figure places the broadcast at No. 3 on U.S. TV, excluding specials, sports and syndication. Nightly News also averaged 980,000 adults 25-54 this past week—which is a -4% drop from the week prior.  Nightly News saw year-over-year declines of -6% in total viewers and -17% among adults 25-54.

Across NBC News digital, Nightly News had its best week since March for the second week in a row, with 16.8 million video views and 1.6 million hours viewed on and off network platforms. Weekday episodes of Nightly reached 657,000 viewers on YouTube. This is according to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals, as well as YouTube Analytics Portal.

The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.24 million total viewers—and 679,000 adults 25-54 for the third week of August. That’s -4% when it comes to total viewers—and -5% in adults 25-54 from the previous week. Evening News was also down by -12% in total viewers—and a whopping -30% among adults 25-54 vs. the comparable week in 2021.

On Friday Aug. 19, CBS Evening News was retitled to “CBS Evening Nws” and ABC World News Tonight retitled to “WNT-ABC” due to a preseason NFL game. The retitled telecasts are excluded from the weekly and season averages. CBS’ and ABC’s weekly evening news ratings averages are based on four days (Monday-Thursday), while NBC’s evening ratings averages are based on all five days, including the traditionally low-rated Friday.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Aug. 15, 2022:

• Total Viewers: 7,307,000 6,087,000 4,244,000
• A25-54: 1,252,000 980,000 679,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 and Adults 18-49 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 8/15/22), Previous Week (w/o 8/8/22) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 8/16/21). Most Current: 2021-2022 Season (9/20/21 – 8/21/22) and 2020-2021 Season (9/21/20 – 8/22/21). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Beginning 8/31/20, national ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing. Averages based on regular telecasts.