Week of Aug. 17 Evening News Ratings: ABC, NBC, CBS Shed Evening News Viewers During Convention Week

By A.J. Katz 

ABC, NBC and CBS shed a fair number of evening news viewers during the week of the Democratic National Convention.

However, despite week-to-week audience drop-off, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir remained No. 1.

The network’s flagship newscast finished the week of Aug. 17 as the No. 1 evening newscast, both in total viewers (8.18 million) and in Adults 25-54 (1.59 million). By averaging 8.18 million total viewers per first-run broadcast last week, World News Tonight was the most-watched show on all of U.S. television for the 12th consecutive week.


However, the newscast was -4% in total viewers and -3% in the key demo versus the previous week in 2020 (Aug. 10). WNT was flat in total viewers and +2% in adults 25-54 from the same week in 2019 (week of Aug. 19). The year-over-year growth in the demo was driven by its Friday broadcast, which featured the first clip from Muir’s big interview with Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris.

ABC’s evening newscast is having its most-watched season in 17 years and averaging its largest adults 25-54 audience in five years—since the 2003-04 and the 2015-16 seasons, respectively.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged only 6.64 million total viewers and 1.34 million adults 25-54 during the week of Aug. 17. Despite this low delivery, Nightly News was the third-most-watched show on all of U.S. television (excluding sports and syndication), climbing to No. 5 on U.S. TV among adults 25-54 last week.

Nightly News was -9% in A25-54 demo viewers from the prior week (Aug. 10) and -9% in total viewers. The newscast was also -9% versus the year-ago week (Aug. 19, 2019) in total viewers and -14% in A25-54 demo viewers.

For the week of Aug. 17, first-run broadcasts of the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.9 million total viewers and 856,000 A25-54 viewers.

Compared to the prior week, Evening News was -8% in total viewers and -11% in the key demo. Relative to the year-ago week, Evening News was -4% in total viewers and -14% in the demo.

CBS Evening News retitled its Friday broadcast this past week (referring to it as “CBS Evening Nws”), meaning its week of Aug. 17 ratings are based on just four days. One should note that CBS Evening News has retitled each Friday broadcast since the start of June, with the exception being July 31.

Neither ABC nor NBC are doing that.

*Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings at various times during the day, and in a variety of markets, large and small.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Aug.  17:

• Total Viewers: 8,180,000 6,835,000 4,893,000
• A25-54: 1,589,000 1,335,000 856,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54  Live + SD Current Week (w/o 8/17/20), Previous Week (w/o 8/10/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 8/19/19). Most Current: 2019-2020 Season (9/23/19-8/23/20) and 2018-2019 Season (9/24/18-8/25/19). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. Averages based on regular telecasts. Broadcast and Cable ranker for w/o 8/17/20 based on Total Day.