Week of Feb. 15 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Is the Most-Watched Show on U.S. TV

By A.J. Katz 

On a week with breaking news on several fronts including extreme winter weather in the South and across the Northeast, Americans flocked to the evening newscasts.

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir put up huge ratings during the week of Feb. 15, averaging nearly 10.2 million total viewers and more than 2 million adults 25-54. This result means ABC’s evening newscast has averaged a larger audience than its NBC and CBS evening counterparts both in total viewers and in the key demo for 47 consecutive weeks.

The 10.2 million viewer average also means that World News Tonight was the most-watched show on all of U.S. TV last week, according to the most current data from Nielsen.


Additionally, on Presidents’ Day (Monday, Feb. 15), the newscast averaged its largest audience since April 29, 2020 (10.8 million viewers).

Compared to the prior week, (which was the week of the impeachment), World News Tonight is up +7% in total viewers, and +8% in the key A25-54 demo. That’s much-needed growth after three consecutive weeks of viewership decline. Compared to the same week one year ago, the trend remains positive—World News Tonight grew +13% in total viewers and +13% among adults 25-54.

On the digital front, ABC News says that according to Conviva data, the evening newscast had 12.6 million video views across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the week.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged 8.3 million total viewers last week, making it the fourth-most-watched show on all of TV (excluding sports and syndication). The newscast also averaged 1.6 million adults 25-54. Compared to the prior week, Nightly News is up +4% in total viewers and +3% among adults 25-54. The newscast is also up +7% in total viewers, and +3% among adults 25-54 vs. the year-ago week.

Unlike ABC’s and CBS’ evening newscasts, NBC’s flagship newscast streams on YouTube and is able to garner some additional eyeballs that way (eyeballs that aren’t measured by Nielsen). According to YouTube Analytics Portal, the newscast earned an estimated average of 1.5 million per episode last week, with 30-40% of those viewers watching on their TV via the YouTube app. Full episodes of Nightly are posted right after the West Coast feed.

Altogether, Nightly News had 25 million video views last week. Again, that’s according to Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals; YouTube Analytics Portal.

Like its competition, CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell performed relatively well. The newscast averaged 6.4 million viewers, which is up +5% from the prior week, and nearly 1.2 million adults 25-54, which is actually flat from the prior week. Compared to the year-ago week, the newscast grew +11% in total viewers, and +4% in the demo.

Evening News was also the No. 1 program on CBS on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in total viewers and adults 25-54.

All in all, this was a pretty good ratings week for the evening newscasts.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Feb. 15, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 10,169,000 8,332,000 6,393,000
• A25-54: 2,039,000 1,643,000 1,169,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 2/15/21), Previous Week (w/o 2/8/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 2/17/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-2/21/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-2/23/20). Nielsen ratings for ABC, NBC and CBS include additional airings in select markets. National ratings also include Out of Home (OOH) viewing.  Averages based on regular telecasts.