Week of Dec. 18 Evening News Ratings: NBC Nightly News Earns Rare Weekly Win in Key A25-54 Demo

By A.J. Katz 

For years, the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt has played second fiddle to ABC in the evening news ratings race. However, NBC’s flagship evening newscast was able to average more Adults 25-54 than its CBS and its ABC competition during the week of December 18, 2023. The last time NBC Nightly News earned a weekly win over ABC’s evening newscast in the key A25-54 demo was the onset of the coronavirus in the U.S. (week of March 23, 2020).

Per live plus same day data from Nielsen, NBC Nightly News averaged 1.055 million A25-54 viewers for the week of Dec. 18, a solid +10% gain from the week prior (Dec. 11) but -22% from the year-ago week (Dec. 19, 2022). Additionally, NBC’s evening newscast averaged 6.85 million viewers for the aforementioned week, +3% from the week prior but -13% from the year-ago week, and still second overall behind ABC.

NBC Nightly News averaged the most A25-54 viewers of any evening newscast for four consecutive evenings (Friday, Dec. 15, Monday, Dec. 18, Tuesday, Dec. 19 and Wednesday, Dec. 20) marking the show’s longest daily winning streak in nearly four years.


Additionally, NBC Nightly News retitled to “NBC Nitely News” on Friday, Dec. 22, with the network figuring fewer people than usual would be watching the evening news in the run-up to the Christmas holiday (fair enough), and not wanting that night’s lower-than-usual ratings to hurt the show’s overall weekly averages (to be fair, ABC and CBS retitled their respective Friday telecasts as well).

While ABC World News Tonight with David Muir may be disappointed about falling behind NBC in the key A25-54 demo, it continues to average largest total audience of any evening newscast–a feat it has accomplished for 264 of the past 265 weeks–and averaged the largest audience of any regularly-scheduled daily program across broadcast and cable.

World News Tonight averaged nearly 7.63 million total viewers, but only 985,000 A25-54 viewers during the week of Dec. 18. That’s -1% in total viewers and -2% in A25-54 viewers from the week before.  When compared with the year-ago week, the trend is worse (as is true for NBC and CBS), with the newscast -14% in total viewers and a whopping -37% in A25-54 viewers.

World News Tonight’s week of Dec. 18 ratings averages are based on three days.  The Monday, Dec. 18 broadcast of World News Tonight was retitled to “WNT-ABC” and excluded from the show’s weekly and season ratings average due to ESPN Monday Night Football airing on ABC, a common practice throughout the regular NFL season to-date. The Friday, Dec. 22 broadcast was retitled to “WNT-ABC” because like NBC, ABC undoubtedly figured fewer people than usual would be watching the evening news in the run-up to the Christmas holiday.

Though it’s certainly not guaranteed, ABC World News Tonight may very well regain its No. 1 ranking in the A25-54 demo once the 2023 Monday Night Football season ends (early-January 2024) and ABC resumes counting its traditionally highly-rated Monday broadcast on a more consistent basis. We’ll see!

Changing channels, The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged 4.9 million total viewers and 681,000 Adults 25-54 for the week of Dec 18. That’s +4% and +6%, respectively, from what the newscast averaged the week prior. Similar to ABC and NBC, CBS Evening News’ year-over-year trend was poor. The newscast saw a -12% decline in total viewers and a -22% decline in A25-54 viewers from the year-ago week.

CBS Evening News, like the ABC and NBC competition, retitled its Friday, Dec. 22 broadcast (“CBS Evening Nws”) due to the imminent Christmas holiday.

Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Dec. 18, 2023:

• Total Viewers: 7,626,000 6,851,000 4,900,000
• A25-54: 985,000 1,055,000 681,000


Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 12/18/23), Previous Week (w/o 12/11/23) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 12/12/22). Most Current Data Stream: 2022-2023 Season (9/25 – 12/24/22) and 2022-2023 Season (9/19 – 12/18/22). 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.