Week of Jan. 18 Evening News Ratings: World News Tonight Wins Inauguration Week, Posts Growth in Demo

By A.J. Katz 

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir was the go-to evening newscast during inauguration week.

ABC was No. 1 in the evenings for the week of Jan. 18, 2021 in the relevant categories: Total viewers (10.1 million on average) and adults 25-54 (2 million). That marks 43 consecutive weeks that ABC’s evening newscast has averaged a larger total audience than its NBC and CBS evening competition in total viewers and in the demo.

Not only was World News Tonight the most-watched evening newscast for the week, it was the most-watched program across all of TV for the week (excluding sports and syndication); and for the first time since 1997, World News Tonight won Inauguration Day in all key demos.


Compared to the prior week,  however, World News Tonight was actually down -2% in total viewers, but added interest in the inauguration brought more younger news viewers to the newscast last week than usual, and WNT was up +1% in the key A25-54 demo.

Compared to the same week one year ago,  the trend was superb. World News Tonight grew +11% in total viewers and +18% among adults 25-54. That’s more growth than its competition.

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt averaged nearly 8.3 million total viewers, making it the No. 5 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 1.8 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.

Compared to the prior week, Nightly News was down -2% in total viewers and -1% among adults 25-54. However, the year-over-year trend was good: Up +5% in total viewers and +3% among adults 25-54.

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell averaged nearly 6.2 million viewers and more than 1.1 million adults 25-54. Similar to Nightly News, Evening News is down week-to-week. Evening News is down -5% in the demo, and -2% in total viewers. But the newscast is up year-over-year, +4% in total viewers and +6% among adults 25-54.

Below, the Nielsen live-plus-same-day averages for the week of Jan. 18, 2021:

• Total Viewers: 10,144,000 8,278,000 6,166,000
• A25-54: 2,057,000 1,706,000 1,146,000




Source: The Nielsen Company, NTI Total Viewers, Adults 25-54 Live + SD Current Week (w/o 1/18/21), Previous Week (w/o 1/11/20) and Year-Ago Week (w/o 1/20/20). Most Current: 2020 -2021 Season (9/21/20-1/24/21) and 2019-2020 Season (9/23/13-1/26/20). 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.