Week of Aug. 31 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Remains No. 1 Evening Newscast, but Sees Its 13-Week Run as TV’s No. 1 Show End

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight With David Muir opened the Nielsen month of September with yet another win in the evening news race, marking 23 consecutive weekly wins over the NBC and CBS competition in average total viewers and adults 25-54.

ABC’s flagship newscast drew 8.58 million total viewers and 1.61 million adults 25-54 for the week of Aug. 31, 2020.

Despite that performance last week, World News Tonight saw its streak as the most-watched show on U.S. TV come to an end after an impressive 13-week run.


World News Tonight trended down from the previous week (RNC week, w/o Aug. 24). The newscast was -2% in total viewers and -6 % in the key A25-54 demo. However, it delivered growth from the same week in 2019 (week of Sept. 2), which included the Labor Day holiday (Sept. 2, 2019): +2% in total viewers and +1% in adults 25-54.

WNT’s weekly ratings average is based on just three nights of ratings: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Due to NBA Playoffs coverage on Tuesday (Sept. 1), World News Tonight was retitled to “Wrld News Tonite.” In addition, due to the Friday before Labor Day (Sept. 4), World News Tonight was retitled to “Wrld News Tonite.”

ABC World News Tonight 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 7.54 million total viewers and nearly 1.5 million adults 25-54 during the week of Aug. 31. Those are its largest deliveries in the respective categories since the week of July 20.

Nightly News was the third-most-watched show on all of U.S. television (excluding sports and syndication) and No.4 among adults 25-54, improvements from the previous week.

NBC’s flagship newscast delivered +4% growth from the prior week in average total viewers, but stayed flat in A25-54 demo viewers. The performance wasn’t quite as strong on a year-over-year basis. Versus the year-ago week (Sept. 2 2019), Nightly was -1% in total viewers and -10% in A25-54 demo viewers.

NBC Nightly News also decided to retitle its Friday broadcast.

For the week of Aug. 31, first-run broadcasts of the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 5.45 million total viewers and 972,000 A25-54 viewers.

Compared to the prior week, Evening News was +4% in total viewers and +1% in the key demo. However, relative to the year-ago week, Evening News was also +1% in total viewers but a whopping -11% among adults 25-54.

CBS Evening News decided to retitle its Friday broadcast.

The week of Aug. 31, 2020 was also the first week where Nielsen national ratings included Out of Home viewing. Prior to Aug. 31, ratings did not include OOH viewing.

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. 31:

• Total Viewers: 8,581,000 7,535,000 5,447,000
• A25-54: 1,608,000 1,495,000 972,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 8/31/20*), Previous Week (w/o 8/24/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 9/2/19). Most Current: 2019-2020 Season (9/23/19-9/7/20*) and 2018-2019 Season (9/24/18-9/9/19).