Week of Aug. 2 Evening News Ratings: NBC’s Nightly News Program Averages Larger Adults 25-54 Audience Than Competition

By A.J. Katz 

Viewership data for the week of August 2, 2021 is in, and for the second consecutive week, NBC’s nightly news program (retitled as “NBC Nitely News”) finished the week at No. 1 among adults 25-54.  The Lester Holt-anchored newscast averaged 1.44 million adults 25-54, to go with an 6.92 million total viewer average on linear last week.

NBC’s nightly newscast ranks No. 2 in total viewers, and its Saturday and Sunday editions follow at No. 3 and No. 4 in total viewers (excluding sports & syndication) across all of TV for the week.

While NBC’s Olympics coverage lifted the network’s evening newscast past ABC World News Tonight in the key A25-54 demo for the second straight week, the newscast lost -4% in adults 25-54 and -3% in average total viewers from the prior week (July 26, 2021). The newscast was -3% in A25-54 viewers, and -7% in average total viewers compared to the same week in 2020,


Compared to the second week of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, NBC’s evening newscast shed -48% of its A25-54 audience, and was -29% in average total viewers. Now to be fair, NBC’s 2020 Olympics ratings are significantly down from 2016 Olympics ratings, so the evening news numbers were bound to be down quite a bit as well.

Additionally, on YouTube, weekday episodes of Nightly News reached 729,000 views and 622,000 viewers last week. That’s according to data from Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals, and the YouTube Analytics Portal.

NBC Nightly News decided to retitle all of last week’s broadcasts, and as a result, Nielsen ratings for last week’s shows won’t count towards NBC Nightly News’ season averages. Why did NBC decide to retitle for the second consecutive week? The reasoning is NBC’s evening coverage of the Olympics preempted the newscast at its normal time in West Coast and Mountain time zones.

According to live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir finished the week of August 2 at No. 1 in average total viewers (7.34 million), a title it has held for a whopping 141 consecutive weeks. This means that for the first time in 29 years, World News Tonight is the most-watched newscast during the two weeks of a summer Olympics.

Over the past two weeks, World News Tonight delivered its smallest margin in Adults 25-54 (-81,000 – 1.38 million vs. 1.46 million) versus NBC during any Olympics since the 1992 Summer Olympics (the Nielsen electronic database started in September 1991.)

Compared to the previous week (July 26), World News Tonight shed -2% in average total viewers, and -6% in the key A25-54 demo. Versus the comparable week in 2020, World News Tonight shed -12% of its average total audience, and -19% of its A25-54 demo audience.

Whit Johnson filled in for David Muir last week.

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.79 million total viewers, and 798,000 adults 25-54 for the week. That’s a -1% drop-off in total viewers, and -7% in adults 25-54 from the prior week.  CBS Evening News also viewers from the year ago week, -9% in total viewers and -17% in A25-54.

Despite those losses, Evening News ranked as the No. 1 program on CBS in total viewers every day last week and on the demo Monday and Tuesday.

CBS Evening News was rated based on a four-day average (Monday-Thursday), once again choosing to retitle on Friday.

It was a bad ratings week for the evening news overall.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of August 2:

• Total Viewers: 7,434,000 6,924,000 4,790,000
• A25-54: 1,343,000 1,436,000 798,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 8/2/21), Previous Week (w/o 7/26/21) , Year-Ago Week (w/o 8/3/20) and comparable Summer Olympics week (8/15/16). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-8/8/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-8/8/20). 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.