Week of Feb. 22 Evening News Ratings: ABC World News Tonight Marks Back to Back Weeks as Most-Watched Show on TV

By A.J. Katz 

Fronted by ABC News lead anchor David Muir, ABC World News Tonight averaged more than 9.45 million total viewers and 1.8 million adults 25-54 during the week of Feb. 22, marking 48 consecutive weeks that ABC’s evening newscast has averaged a larger audience than its NBC and CBS evening counterparts both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo.

The 9.45 million viewer average across the five nights 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.

All three evening newscasts lost viewers from the prior week.


World News Tonight fell -7% in total viewers, and -12% in the key A25-54 demo. However, compared to the same week one year ago, the trend remains positive. World News Tonight grew +4% in total viewers and +1% among adults 25-54.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged more than 7.6 million total viewers last week, making it the 5th-most-watched show on all of TV (excluding sports and syndication). The newscast also averaged nearly 1.4 million adults 25-54.

Those aren’t spectacular Nielsen numbers by Nightly News standards. Compared to the prior week, Nightly News fell -8% in total viewers and -13% among adults 25-54. The newscast also fell -3% in total viewers, and -12% among adults 25-54 from 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 905,000 viewers per episode last week, with 30-40% of those watching on their TV via the YouTube app. Full episodes of Nightly are posted right after the West Coast feed. Altogether, Nightly News had 20 million video views last week. Again, that’s according to Adobe Analytics and Partner Portals; YouTube Analytics Portal.

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell  averaged 5.8 million viewers for the week, which is -10% from the prior week, and nearly 1.1 million adults 25-54, which is -9% from the prior week. As was the case for NBC, CBS also lost traction from the year-ago week. The newscast fell  -4% in total viewers, and -10% in the demo.

The broadcast was still No. 1 on CBS 4 out of 5 days last week and No. 1 in the key A25-54 demo 3 days.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Feb. 22, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 9,451,000 7,626,000 5,757,000
• A25-54: 1,795,000 1,432,000 1,066,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54. Live + SD Current Week (w/o 2/22/21), Previous Week (w/o 2/15/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 2/24/20).

Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-2/28/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-3/1/20).

Social media video views: Conviva (w/o 2/22/21). 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.