Week of Jan. 11 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Averages Largest Audience Since April

By A.J. Katz 

A new week yielded the same result in the evening news ratings race. ABC World News Tonight with David Muir was the No. 1 evening newscast for the week of Jan. 11, 2021 in the relevant categories: Total viewers (10.34 million on average) and adults 25-54 (2 million on average).

That marks 112 consecutive weeks that ABC’s evening newscast has averaged a larger total audience than its NBC and CBS evening competition.

In fact, the 10.34 million average for the week (per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data) represents ABC’s largest average audience since the week of April 27, 2020.

World News Tonight isseeing its most-watched season in 17 years and strongest Adults 25-54 performance in 3 years—since the 2003-2004 and the 2017-2018 seasons, respectively.

The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged nearly 8.5 million total viewers, making it the No. 3 most-watched show of the week in all of TV (excluding sports and syndication). The newscast also averaged 1.7 million adults 25-54.

Unlike ABC and CBS’ evening newscasts, NBC’s flagship newscast also streams live on YouTube and is able to garner some additional eyeballs that way (eyeballs which aren’t measured by Nielsen). According to YouTube Analytics Portal. the newscast earned an estimated 2 million per episode last week, with 30-40% of those viewers watching on their TV via the YouTube app and the average viewing time being roughly 12 minutes.

The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell delivered an average of nearly 6.3 million total viewers with 1.2 million of them in the adults 25-54 demo.

CBS Evening News was retitled on Thursday due to a CBS News special report, and its Thursday telecast is excluded from the weekly and season averages. Evening News ranked as the most-watched show on CBS on each of the nights it was rated last week, and on Monday, Tuesday and Friday in the A25-54 demo.

Compared with the prior week, which featured the domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, World News Tonight was actually up +2% in total viewers, but -3% among adults 25-54. NBC Nightly News was -1% in total viewers, and -3% among adults 25-54. Coming off a massive week by its own standards, CBS Evening News came back down to earth -9% in total viewers, and -20% among adults 25-54.

Why the week-to-week losses? Coverage of the horrific event likely attracted younger viewers who might not traditionally watch the evening news. With that in mind, seeing a steeper decline this past week in demo viewers than in total viewers makes sense.

On a year over year basis, the trend remains strong. World News Tonight is up +11% in total viewers, and +10% among adults 25-54. NBC Nightly News is +5% in total viewers and +4% among adults 25-54. CBS Evening News +6% in total viewers and +11% among adults 25-54.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Jan. 11, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 10,336,000 8,469,000 6,260,000
• A25-54: 2,044,000 1,719,000 1,201,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54  Live + SD Current Week (w/o 1/11/21), Previous Week (w/o 1/4/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 1/13/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-1/17/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-1/19/20). 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.